Airbus Commercial Aircraft president Fabrice Brégier is very optimistic about the state of the global airliner market and the prospects it offers the company. “The market is still very active; the growth is, in China … still more than 10% year-on-year – on [sic] such a big market, we are having 1 500 Airbus aircraft flying every day, in China,” he said in an interview on Airbus’ own Youtube channel, posted on Monday. “So the potential is there. It’s up to our competitiveness, our commercial aggressivity [sic] and also our industrial performance.”
Last year was a very successful one for the company. “[W]e are leading again the sales competition against Boeing,” he highlighted. In terms of units (aircraft), the European manufacturer won 55% of total global airliner orders (excluding regional airliners, a segment in which neither Airbus or Boeing participate), while US group Boeing won 45%. In terms of value, Airbus secured 51% of the market and Boeing 49%.
“What makes the difference is the single-aisle market and we could see huge demand, which was confirmed, and the talent of [chief operating officer: customers] John [Leahy] and his team was to grab that at the very end of the year, because many deals were closed at the end of December,” pointed out Brégier. “The challenge for us was to deliver more than 700, and if possible 720, aircraft by the end of 2017, and I can tell you that it was a hell of a challenge. And I’m very pleased that the teams delivered 718 aircraft.”
In the single-aisle category, in terms of units in 2017 Airbus’s A320 family won 59% of orders and Boeing’s 737 models secured 49%. However, with regard to wide-body aircraft, the Airbus A330 and A350 families achieved 25% of total orders whereas Boeing’s 767, 777 and 787 accounted for the remaining 75%. But Leahy observed that one year does not make a trend: Airbus has won 50% of net wide-body airliner orders over the past ten years (if wide-body freighters are included, this declines to 47%).
“We are well-positioned in wide-body,” said Leahy during the Airbus Orders and Deliveries 2017 press conference on Monday. “We are stunningly positioned in the single-aisle market.”
The market for very large aircraft – the Airbus A380 and Boeing 747-8 (and 747-8F freighter) – is difficult at the moment. Neither type won any new orders last year; each saw the cancellation of two units previously ordered. “With the A380, we have a commercial challenge,” stated Brégier during the press conference. Production is being ramped down; 15 A380s were delivered last year. “We’ll deliver 12 aircraft as planned in 2018 and I can confirm today [January 15] that we can have an industrially robust process to deliver down to six aircraft a year.”
Airbus plans to increase the production of its other models during this year. “2018 will see a bigger ramp-up of our deliveries,” he affirmed. If successful (it depends on engine manufacturers meeting their commitments), this will see the company deliver close to 800 aircraft this year.