Aircraft Manufacturers: How Airbus and Boeing Overcome the Crisis

Status: 10/28/2021 3:57 p.m.

While Airbus is slowly recovering from the consequences of the Corona crisis, Boeing is again in the red in the third quarter. However, this is not only due to the effects of the pandemic.

By Lilli Hiltscher,

After the extreme slumps caused by the corona pandemic, the aviation industry is slowly recovering. One aircraft manufacturer in particular benefits from this: After the billion-dollar loss in 2020, the European group Airbus has once again raised its profit expectations for the current year: For 2021, the world’s largest aircraft manufacturer expects an operating profit before taxes and interest of 4.5 billion euros – this has been corrected management raised its expectations by a further 500 million euros within three months.

Order situation is recovering

This means that Airbus comes out of the crisis better than expected. Because the effects of the corona pandemic on air traffic also hit the world’s two largest aircraft manufacturers hard last year: Incoming orders at Airbus plummeted by almost 60 percent in the crisis year 2020. The airlines only ordered 268 commercial aircraft, in 2019 there were around 500 more.

Since the summer, Airbus has been ramping up production of its medium-haul jets from the A320 model family, which had previously been severely throttled. “Especially in the area of ​​medium-haul and short-haul flights, the airlines are ordering more and are also accepting the aircraft”, aviation expert Cord Schellenberg explains the positive development. The three large markets of North America, Europe and China in Asia recovered, especially for domestic flights, and returned to pre-crisis levels.

Asian market causes problems

Airbus plans to deliver a total of 600 aircraft to customers this year; 424 aircraft have already left the plants. However, the Asian region could become a problem for the European aircraft manufacturer. Before the pandemic, Airbus benefited from the enormous growth in aviation, but at the moment many borders there are still tight and several Asian airlines have already asked for the delivery of new machines to be postponed.

For air traffic and thus also for the success of the largest aircraft manufacturers Airbus and Boeing, the long-haul and the Asian market would have to recover in the long term: “In the case of long-haul, it is difficult to predict how the demand for planes will develop because it depends very much on the other The development of the corona pandemic and vaccinations worldwide depends, “said Schellenberg.

Boeing is in the red

Despite a recovering order situation for medium and short haul routes, the US competitor Boeing is again in the red in the third quarter of the current year, with a loss of $ 132 million. The reason for this, however, is no longer just the pandemic, but above all the problems with the long-haul 787 “Dreamliner” jets cost Boeing dearly. 183 million dollars in extra costs caused the production defects in the “Dreamliner”, the delivery and production of which had to be shut down this year. At the moment, Boeing only manufactures two “Dreamliners” machines per month. “Boeing is particularly struggling with home-made problems,” said Schellenberg.

And the group has two more construction sites: The medium-haul aircraft 737 MAX has not yet been approved for air traffic in the important Chinese market and production is still at a low level. In addition, the “Starliner” spaceship is causing problems for the US company, especially financially. The next test flight to the international space station ISS had to be postponed from this summer to the coming year due to technical problems; Last quarter cost was $ 185 million.

Aircraft manufacturers are also affected by delivery bottlenecks

However, the effects of the pandemic will soon be reflected again in the two largest aircraft manufacturers in the form of delivery difficulties: Airbus customers are in demand for the short and medium-haul A320 / A321 models. An important reason for this development is that new, more fuel-efficient aircraft are currently the greatest lever for reducing CO2 emissions in aviation. However, the suppliers will probably not be able to meet Airbus’ demand.

The restart of production of the A320 series has been causing “tensions” with some suppliers since September, said group boss Guillaume Faury. It is about the reinstatement of workers or logistics problems. There is enough demand for 75 short- and medium-haul models per month, Faury said. “But we have to look at the situation in the supply chain.” There are already delays with some suppliers.

Airbus is currently ramping up production of the A320 series after it was throttled from 65 to 40 aircraft per month in the Corona crisis. Engine manufacturers in particular have concerns as to whether they will be able to keep pace with the targeted expansion of production to 75 machines per month.

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