MIAMI — Despite the industrial issues related to the deliveries of engines and cabin fittings, Airbus was able to deliver a record number of planes, although new orders dropped in 2016, as demand slumped after a decade-long buying spree by Middle East and Asian carriers.
The European airframer announced Wednesday in Toulouse that it delivered 688 aircraft to 82 customers over 2016, just 8% higher than the previous record of 635 units set in 2015. Most of the aircraft delivered correspond to the single-aisle A320 family aircraft, including 68 A320neo.
Airbus remained behind Boeing in deliveries, but won the sales race after posting 731 net orders for 2016. However, sales were 32,3% lower than 2015, when the company logged 1,035 net orders.
The overall backlog of the company stands now at 6,874 aircraft, valued at US$1,018 billion at list prices.
Last year, Boeing delivered 748 aircraft and took 668 net orders.
“We delivered on our objectives in a challenging environment, proving our ramp-up readiness for the future. I salute all our teams on this outstanding achievement,” Fabrice Brégier, President of Airbus Commercial Aircraft said in a statement.
A notable customer that boosted these orders has been Iran Air. Today, Airbus is delivering the first aircraft out of a 100-aircraft order finalized in December, worth over US$ 18 billion at list prices. The Iranian carrier also signed a similar deal with Boeing for 80 aircraft, but this order is not reflected yet in the logbooks, as it is subject to US government approval.
Airbus commercial planes sales chief John Leahy is confident that Airbus will achieve a new record in deliveries in 2017, although he warned that “[it] doesn’t mean that orders are going to be strong.”
Leahy said the company is now focusing on ramping up deliveries, particularly of its A320 family aircraft. In October 2015, Airbus announced plans to ramp up the production of the A320 family aircraft before the end of the decade to 52 planes per month by 2018, supported by its final production lines in Germany, France, China, and the United States.
Notable milestones in 2016 included the delivery of Airbus’ 10,000th aircraft, and the first flight of the A350-1000. The company also commenced deliveries of the A320neo, and the first US-assembled aircraft was delivered from Mobile, Alabama.
Airbus expects to release its annual financial results on February 22.