A more resilient Airbus creamed its troubled US rival when it came to commercial aircraft deliveries in 2020 as Boeing delivered its lowest number of planes in almost half a century.
The impact on aviation of the COVID-19 pandemic was compounded for Boeing by the ongoing grounding of the 737 MAX and manufacturing problems later in the year with its widebody 787 Dreamliner.
Boeing’s woes meant the US company delivered just 157 commercial aircraft compared to 566 at Airbus.
Not weighed down by problems with its single-aisle aircraft, Airbus delivered 446 members of the A320 family, the majority of them neos. Also delivered: 38 A220s, 19 A330s, 59 A350s and four A380s.
However, the Europeans did not escape the ravages of the pandemic and deliveries were down 34 percent from 863 in 2019. Net orders also plummeted from 768 in 2019 to 268 in 2020.
But it won 383 new orders during the year, including 296 A320 Family orders, 37 of which were for A321XLRs. In the widebody segment, Airbus won 23 new orders including two A330s and 21 A350s
Cancelations saw the European planemaker’s backlog fall from 7,482 to 7148.
Airbus said it overcame travel restrictions with an innovative e-delivery solution which represented more than 25 percent of the 2020 deliveries.
This allowed customers to receive their aircraft while minimizing the need for their teams to travel.
“Based on our 2020 deliveries we are cautiously optimistic as we look into 2021, although challenges and uncertainties remain high in the short term,” Airbus chief executive Guillaume Faury said.
Boeing’s 2020 figures were badly hit by the 737 Max woes and it delivered just 43 737s during the year as it watched customers cancel 641 orders.
The Max resumed deliveries in December and Boeing had delivered 31 by year’s end.
Other deliveries comprised five 747s, 30 767s, 26 777s and 53 787s.
“The resumption of 737 MAX deliveries in December was a key milestone as we strengthen safety and quality across our enterprise,’’ Boeing chief financial officer Greg Smith said.
“ We also continued comprehensive inspections of our 787 airplanes to ensure they meet our highest quality standards prior to delivery.
“While limiting our 787 deliveries for the quarter, these comprehensive inspections represent our focus on safety, quality and transparency, and we’re confident that we’re taking the right steps for our customers and for the long-term health of the 787 program.”
Smith said the manufacturer was working closely with customers and monitoring the slow international traffic recovery in 2021 “to align supply with market demand across our widebody programs”
“In 2021, we’ll continue taking the right actions to enhance our safety culture, preserve liquidity and transform our business for the future,’’ he added.