Airbus Services Suffers Smaller Hit From Crisis

The aircraft manufacturer's aftermarket trading was less affected than production of new aircraft, which was heavily hit by the impact of the novel coronavirus.
Credit: Airbus

Airbus’s first-half results were expected to be ugly and the European OEM duly revealed that it burned through more than €12 billion ($14 billion) of cash in the first six months of the year.

Its slide into a net debt position was mainly the result of a collapse in aircraft demand due to Covid-19, with Airbus delivering only 196 aircraft to June 30, roughly half the number of the prior-year period.

With more aircraft parked outside its factories, Airbus’s inventory ticked up from €31.6 million at the start of the year to €37.5 million at the midway point.

However, aftermarket trading was less affected than new aircraft, with Airbus reporting revenue from services and spare parts sales of €1.3 billion, compared with €1.7 billion in the first half of 2019.

Although the uncertainty surrounding coronavirus means that Airbus will not provide guidance for the rest of the year, chief executive Guillaume Faury said its main objective was not to shed any more cash, to which end it has cut production by about one-third and slashed 15,000 jobs.

“We have calibrated the business to face the new market environment on an industrial basis and the supply chain is now working in line with the new plan,” Faury said.

However, Faury also said that A320neo production might rise again from the second half of 2021, in line with expectation that short-haul travel will recover quicker than long-haul.

Of course, any such plan is hostage to how the pandemic develops but--combined with Wizz Air’s recent revelation that it wants to accelerate A320 deliveries to steal a march on its competitors--it may well provide further impetus for Airbus to close the gap in narrowbody marketshare.

Alex Derber

Alex Derber, a UK-based aviation journalist, is editor of the Engine Yearbook and a contributor to Aviation Week and Inside MRO.