Airbus Gets a New Mega-Order as It Struggles to Pump Out Jets

Airbus announced on Sunday a $30 billion order for 255 of its speedy, single-aisle A321 passenger jets to four discount airlines including Wizz and Frontier.

But there is turbulence ahead: the company said it’s overwhelmed with demand for its A320 jet models and is going to struggle to get them off the ground for at least the next three years.

Sales Taking Off

The huge order is a massive victory for Airbus, which jockeys with Boeing for the title of world’s largest aircraft manufacturer every fiscal year. The manufacturer is trying to convince airline buyers — emboldened by the incremental resumption of travel after a year of financial catastrophe — that it can deliver its much-loved, oft-delayed narrow-body planes faster than it did pre-Covid 19.

Up until yesterday, there had been a long layover on the sales front: in the first eight months of the year, Airbus booked orders for just 132 planes while Boeing netted 270. But Airbus has beaten Boeing in deliveries because its rival struggled with the grounding of the 737 MAX over safety concerns. Now it’s gearing up to fix its tortoise-paced manufacturing:

  • In September, Airbus delivered just 40 planes, leaving it 176 short of its 2021 goal of 600.
  • Airbus plans to deliver 65 single-aisle jets a month by 2023 and 75 a month by 2025, but each plane requires 500,000 parts and components from stressed suppliers, which can make reaching such lofty goals difficult.

What About Those A321s?: The new order is fine for now. Most of the deliveries were booked for the second half of the decade, meaning there’s plenty of time — those discount airlines and their customers getting lotto tickets hawked at them 30,000 feet over the Alps hope — for Airbus to get its factories up to speed.

Oh, GE: One company sitting pretty is the soon-to-be-independent GE Aviation. When its parent conglomerate breaks up and leaves the unit on its own, it will supply many engines to Boeing and datalink control and display units to Airbus.

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