Airbus Not Benefiting From Boeing’s MAX Crisis, Exec Says
PARIS—Airbus is not benefiting from Boeing’s ongoing 737 MAX troubles, including the U.S. manufacturer’s Dec. 16 decision to suspend production of the type, Airbus chief commercial officer Christian Scherer said.
“The answer to the question of whether Airbus is benefiting from Boeing’s woes is explicitly, clearly no. We’re in a growth industry, a duopoly, so when one player is not playing its role it’s extremely disruptive to the whole industry,” Scherer told members of the AJPAE French aerospace journalists’ association during a Dec. 18 briefing.
Scherer said that with a full A320 family order book, Airbus could not benefit in an “opportunistic” commercial way from Boeing customer airlines looking for the capacity they had counted on and were now missing, nor would Boeing’s problems benefit the wider industry, with problems for such a high-profile aircraft harming the public perception of the industry as a whole.
Referring to Airbus’s own problems with A320neo family delays, Scherer said the Toulouse-based manufacturer is still looking at the possibility of an extra final assembly line (FAL). “We concede a small slip of our delivery dates, in particular on the A321, and especially the new ACF cabin of the A321,” Scherer said. “These delays are a reality; we regret them and we’re working very hard to minimize the effects. The persistent rumor of a new (A321) FAL is a scenario we are looking at, but the decision has not been made at this stage.”
Airbus is hoping to put the A320 family production issues behind it within the next two years, he added.
Scherer hinted that he sees Airbus rounding off a strong year for sales by breaking through the 1,000 barrier for gross sales, after achieving 940 by the end of November. Airbus had achieved a very symbolic milestone in 2019, selling 20,000 aircraft since the company began. “Perhaps we’ll reach another symbolic milestone this year,” he said.
Scherer said recent import tariff hikes were bad news for the industry. “U.S. import taxes are a serious problem, principally for our customers. In an extremely competitive industry, a 10% tariff constitutes a major obstacle and is extremely destructive,” he said.
Scherer said Airbus did not see any benefit to the industry in the broad sense of an escalation of the tariff war and an increase in protectionism. “We don’t want to encourage either the U.S. or Europe to escalate a tariff war. We encourage the authorities on both sides of the Atlantic to negotiate an agreement.”