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Each year, Boeing  and Airbus engage in a fierce order battle. In 2017, Airbus won that battle by numbers, but in terms of dollar value, which AeroAnalysis ultimately considers to be more important, Boeing easily outperformed Airbus.

For 2018, Airbus expects to maintain a book-to-bill ratio of 1. By looking at the orders, we can see a combination of willingness to commit, pricing, product, and availability come together. Special attention will be paid to the mix of single-aisle aircraft and widebody aircraft, knowing that a single-aisle aircraft costs roughly half or a third of a wide-body aircraft depending on the model.

In this article, AeroAnalysis will be having a look at the order inflow and deliveries for Airbus in May. The April report can be read here.

Order inflow May 2018

During the month of May, Airbus received a total of 25 orders:

  • Lufthansa ordered 3 Airbus A320ceo and 6 Airbus A320neo aircraft.
  • There was 1 intra-company sale of an Airbus A330-200.
  • An undisclosed customer ordered 15 Airbus A350-900 aircraft.

In May there weren’t many orders, but Airbus will be pleased with the order inflow it saw for the Airbus A350. The order for 15 Airbus A350 aircraft marks the first order inflow since September 2017 when United Airlines ordered additional aircraft. The order partly offsets the cancellation from American Airlines  earlier this year. Although the customer has not been disclosed, the order can likely be attributed to the HNA Group which reached a tentative agreement with Airbus earlier in May. It is common practice that Chinese orders get booked as unidentified orders.

It’s likely that Airbus is saving up order announcements for the Farnborough Airshow in July. So far order numbers are not blowing us away, but comparing the first 5 months this year to last year we observed that order inflow increased by 51 units and net orders improved by 38 units. Orders definitely are not the correct metric to measure current performance, but with all the negativity surrounding the Airbus A320neo program and the Airbus A380 you would almost get the impression that Airbus is not getting any orders or at least less orders while the contrary is true.

Last year, Airbus received 59 orders in May which included widebody orders, while 9 orders were canceled. In May 2016, Airbus received 83 orders while 13 aircraft on order were scratched from the order book. Averaging the net orders for the previous two years shows that with 25 orders the net order inflow was below the average of 37 orders.

For May, the list price of the orders was $6B, but after discount, this likely is closer to $2.8B.

Deliveries in May 2018

For 2018, Airbus has set a delivery target of 800 units. In May, Airbus delivered 51 aircraft or 6.3 percent of the aircraft it expects to deliver in 2018:

  • There were no Airbus A380 deliveries in May.
  • Airbus delivered 7 Airbus A350, slightly lower than the production rate of 10 aircraft per month (11 month cycle) that it hit in April on industry side. A higher load efficiency is expected towards year end.
  • Airbus delivered 3 Airbus A330 aircraft, which is slightly lower than the 5 deliveries expected on average each month.
  • Deliveries for the Airbus A320 families were 19 current engine option aircraft and 22 new engine option aircraft.

Year over year, Airbus deliveries in the first 5 months decreased by 19 units increasing the gap compared to 1 month ago when the decrease was 10 units. The decrease can be attributed to lower deliveries of the Airbus A320ceo family deliveries, which are not being offset by neo deliveries and lower A330 and A380 deliveries, which are not fully offset by higher Airbus A350 deliveries.

A320neo family deliveries increased by 5 units during the month, which is not a strong sign but at least something positive considering the problems Airbus faces on the A320neo program specifically. Compared to the annual delivery target, Airbus slipped somewhat, but we have little doubt that we will see a massive increase in deliveries by year-end, though meeting the full year target will be challenging.

For the A320neo, the story of a strong product with engine problem still holds. Deliveries of PW1100G geared turbofans resumed, so during the quarter we should be able to see some recovery in the delivery profile for the Airbus A320neo, though the number of aircraft parked on the final assembly locations will keep growing.

Book-to-bill ratio

For 2018, Airbus expects to maintain a book-to-bill ratio of 1. For Airbus, reaching desired book-to-bill ratios doesn’t seem like a big challenge, but there should be more emphasis on capturing more widebody orders in the mix, especially given the challenges Airbus is facing with the Airbus A320neo. Looking at the monthly book-to-bill ratios does not say a lot, but you have to start somewhere. In May, Airbus booked 25 gross orders while delivering 51 aircraft indicating a .49 gross book-to-bill ratio. In terms of value, this ratio was .83. For the first 5 months, the gross book-to-bill ratio is .72 and .76 in terms of value, which means that Airbus has to step up its game in the coming months. A strong Farnborough Airshow order rain could help the European jet maker.

Conclusion

In May, the highlight was the order for 15 Airbus A350s marking the first order inflow since September 2017 for the program. For Airbus, the main object should not be booking orders to get to the desired book-to-bill ratio but to roll out the jets without delays. On the Airbus A320neo program, deliveries we are only seeing slight improvements and the number of parked A320neo aircraft at assembly sites seems to be growing by the day. We expect to see some improvement to the delivery pattern in the second quarter, but not the normalization we expected earlier. On the Airbus A50 program we are seeing a strong improvement in deliveries, which we expect to continue throughout the year.

We continue to believe that Airbus deliveries will pick up pace and peak towards the end of the quarter extending all the way to the end of the year, but it is needless to say that the current problems with the ‘glider’ Airbus A320 cumulation, the single aisle program is running far from efficiently.