By Hemal Gosai
Airbus Posts a Solid Month of Orders As Boeing Struggles
The global decrease in air travel in 2020 created a glut of aircraft, many of which were sent to storage to ride out the pandemic with the hope that demand returns. This meant that aircraft manufacturers, which had enjoyed orders hand over fist in the years preceding 2020, were in a precarious situation as airlines were putting a pause on their expansion plans.
This year so far has fared somewhat better than last year. Airlines are slowly bringing back capacity where they can, especially domestically. There is, overall, a greater amount of confidence that things will go back to normal soon as the world gets vaccinated and new promising treatments for Covid-19 are made available.
Orders are picking up for the industry as the world tries to move past the Covid-19 pandemic. Boeing managed 257 net orders in July, and August orders should be released this coming week. Airbus had 33 net orders in July and approximately 100 net orders in August. While a far cry from the orders piling in pre-Covid-19, it still is a sign of greater confidence moving forward.
This has given aircraft manufacturer Airbus hope. The company has been able to go from just focusing on maintaining aircraft deliveries as much as possible through the pandemic to actually making sales and bringing new orders in today. While the manufacturer still trails Boeing, which is rapidly clearing its backlog of Boeing 737 MAX orders, the European company still has several bright spots. August was a particularly good month for Airbus in terms of orders, one of which was a significant blow to Boeing.
Wizz Air, a budget airline based in Budapest, is weighing a purchase of at least 100 Airbus A320 family jets to fuel its expansion plans beyond Eastern Europe. The airline primarily operates a fleet of A320s and Airbus A321s with 202 Airbus A321neos already on order to expand across Europe.
It is dead set on growing in Europe one way or another as it was recently made public that Wizz had put in a bid to take over EasyJet, another European budget carrier. The bid was ultimately rejected with EasyJet choosing to raise money instead.
Delta Air Lines, a SkyTeam alliance airline, has also been less kind to Boeing this past month, converting purchase rights into firm orders for 30 A321neos. This follows a similar conversion back in April for firm orders of A321neos. Delta is showing strong support for the aircraft with purchase rights for 70 additional aircraft as it seeks to modernize its fleet with newer fuel-efficient aircraft and an improved passenger experience. The airline will begin taking deliveries of the A321neos beginning in the first half of 2022 with deliveries continuing through 2027.
A few other SkyTeam airlines are also likely to show Airbus some love in the coming months. Italia Trasporto Aereo, the successor of bankrupt Italian airline Alitalia, may also go to Airbus for new aircraft.
Air France-KLM is also looking to sign a deal for aircraft, and both Boeing and Airbus are in competition for the order. However it is likely the order will go to the French aircraft manufacturer Airbus given the recent French government support that was given to the airline.
European airline Jet2 has also placed an order with Airbus for 36 A321neo aircraft and options to purchase another 24 aircraft in a huge blow to Boeing. Jet2 currently operates a fleet comprised of mainly Boeing 737 aircraft.
It is likely that the new aircraft on order from Airbus are going to replace aging Boeing aircraft in the fleet, leaving Boeing in a very difficult spot since now it would make sense for Jet2 to continue with Airbus aircraft in the future. There is also reasoning that could support Jet2 splitting its fleet between Boeing and Airbus, so Boeing may not be out of the running in the long term.