© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: An Airbus A330neo performs during the inauguration of the 53rd Paris International Air Show at Le Bourget Airport near Paris, France, June 17, 2019. REUTERS / Benoit Tessier / Pool
By Tim Hepher
PARIS (Reuters) -Airbus lost a fifth of its pending orders for its A330neo long-haul jet in March as the plane’s biggest customer went through a restructuring, but won sales elsewhere for more than 100 of its smaller jets, monthly data showed Friday.
AirAsia X has canceled 63 A330-900 versions of the A330neo, an upgrade of the aging A330 wide-body model, as well as 10 smaller A321neo planes, Airbus said.
The European plane maker also said it delivered 142 planes in the first quarter, up more than 13% year-on-year.
However, the actual number of deliveries reached only 140 after two of Aeroflot’s were canceled due to sanctions against Russia.
Airbus counted two A350 deliveries to Aeroflot in its year-end inventory in December as part of its forecasted annual deliveries, but the planes did not fly to Russia. The data shows that Airbus also canceled the related Aeroflot order.
“Airbus may be looking for new owners for these properties,” Jefferies analyst Chloe Lemarie said in a note.
Industry sources say Airbus is trying to sell excess A350s to Air India, of which three it claims are available due to a dispute with Qatar Airways. The two sides are engaged in a fierce battle of wits over the fate of the A350s after surface damage was discovered in the fleet.
The widely watched total deliveries confirm the 140-142 range reported this week by Reuters, citing sources – a number higher than some analysts had predicted.
The announcement came as Chief Executive Officer Guillaume Faury told a German newspaper that Airbus was sticking to its goal of raising standard narrowbody production to 65 units per month by the summer of 2023, while reaffirming its targets. financial spending despite the war in Ukraine.
The A330neo is an upgrade of Airbus’ best-selling wide-body jet designed to compete with Boeing (NYSE:787) at a lower price point.
It has already racked up hundreds of orders just to meet patchy demand as it relies heavily on the struggling AirAsia X.
Airbus has been steadily reducing its presence on the books of supposedly unfulfilled orders while turning its attention to booming sales for the A321neo narrow-body aircraft.
“It’s always a shock to see a large fuselage cancellation but these planes probably didn’t count towards investors’ delivery forecasts,” said Agency Partners analyst Sash Tusa. for at least the past three years”.
“With the focus on strong demand for A321neo, this is a good opportunity to review A330neo orders and clear up the backlog.”
In legal testimony on Thursday, Airbus minimized the benefits of its best-selling A321neo over Boeing’s 737 MAX 10, as opposed to its own marketing ploy, but analysts described the move This is a courtroom tactic in the growing legal dispute with Qatar Airways.
After canceling Friday’s order, Airbus has 200 undelivered A330neos in its order book compared with 265 a month ago. These include 28 for Iran under the nuclear deal that collapsed in 2018, although Tehran is in talks with major powers to restore the deal.
On Friday, Airbus said it sold a total of 253 jets in the first quarter, or a total of 83 after canceling flights. Rival Boeing will release quarterly data next week.