If there has been one area of aviation in the long 18 months of the corona pandemic that has done very well, it is air freight. The sector is very profitable, also because the online business has really boomed and at the same time the capacity has decreased. But the one who couldn’t share in the growth and profits was the European aircraft manufacturer Airbus – he just didn’t have a suitable aircraft to offer, Boeing had a comfortable monopoly. But that should change in a few years.
The Group’s supervisory board now wishes to build a new Airbus cargo aircraft. The aircraft based on the A350 passenger model is expected to be delivered for the first time in 2025. Negotiations with potential first-time customers are ongoing, but not yet concluded. The aircraft would rival the Boeing 777F with a payload of over 90 tonnes. The US group has received a total of 254 orders for the model since 2005. Especially during the corona pandemic, activity with the 777F as well as the 747-8F and the smaller 767F was an important financial backbone.
With the new cargo plane, Airbus misses the current boom. Airbus CEO Guillaume Faury, however, estimates that the cargo version of the A350 will be in high demand in the second half of the decade, when airlines replace older models. In 2028, the UN sub-organization International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) will also have more stringent environmental requirements that will at least call into question the continued production of current jets.
The fact that the supervisory board is now releasing not precisely quantified investments in the new model also shows that confidence is slowly returning to Airbus. There are also special reasons for this: in the first half of the year, the company managed to generate an operating profit of 2.7 billion euros. Sales increased 30% to 24.6 billion euros. In the first half of the previous year, Airbus reported a loss of 1.5 billion.
The trend reversal is almost entirely due to the commercial aircraft activity. Airbus delivered 297 machines in the first six months, 101 more than a year ago. A total of 600 deliveries are to be made this year, i.e. around 40 more than during the worst year of the crisis, 2020.
Suppliers don’t believe in new records
The production of short and medium-haul aircraft must now be considerably developed. In the fourth quarter, the price of the A320neo family is expected to increase to 45 jets per month, then to 64 in spring 2023. Airbus plans to build 70 aircraft per month in 2024 and even 75 a year later. , the builder would be the historical Exceed the highest score (63). But the project encountered resistance from suppliers. Olivier Andriès, boss of French engine manufacturer Safran, said he was not convinced there was sufficient demand for more than 60 devices per month.
The boss of Airbus Faury reacted clearly: he was “really disappointed that some partners are questioning the tariffs”. Airbus has an order book of over 6,000 A320neo Family aircraft – at current production level that means 15 years of use and even at the rate of 60 there is still enough work to be done for another ten years. “But our customers don’t want to wait that long,” explains Faury. And Airbus wants to take advantage of the weakness of its competitor Boeing and gain additional market share. After the global flight ban, Boeing is slowing production of the 737Max and is currently building 16 jets per month. The Type 787 long-range jets are currently not built due to quality issues in production. But Boeing had recently performed significantly better and is now back in the dark.
However, demand for long-haul aircraft is likely to remain weak for some time, as will production. German holiday airline Condor has made a welcome change from the generally bad news in this segment. Following the takeover by the new majority owner Attestor, the Supervisory Board approved 16 new A330-900s, which are to replace Condor’s obsolete Boeing 767s. The new jets are expected to be delivered between the end of 2022 and 2024. However, this news is not as good for Airbus as it seems at first glance: only seven of the 16 machines are in fact new orders. Condor acquired nine planes from leasing companies.