Multiple business media outlets are reported that global commercial aircraft producer Airbus has exceeded its declared target for delivery of 600 commercial aircraft in 2021, cementing its annual delivery leadership crown over rival Boeing.
Reuters reported that deliveries went down to the wire with several customer handovers occurring on December 31, allowing a tally of 611 delivered aircraft, reflecting an 8 percent increase over that of 2020. This was the classic hockey stick approach that the industry has maintained in recent years but takes on new meaning in 2021 with so many supply chain supply network challenges. In October, Supply Chain Matters highlighted a Bloomberg report indicating very candid remarks from Airbus CEO Guillaume Faury regarding “tough supply chain challenges” that were expected over the 12-to-18-month window. That tone seems to have changed, given the overall 2021 performance.
The majority of Airbus aircraft deliveries in 2021 were for the company’s popular single-aisle aircraft. The tallies in this category were reported as 483 A320 and 50 A220 family aircraft. Highlights among certain production facilities included 77 aircraft delivered from the U.S. based final assembly line in Mobile Alabama, and 53 aircraft from the facility in Tianjin, China. Gross order flow was reported as 771 last year compared to 383 recorded in 2020.
Firm customer order backlog was noted as 7,082 aircraft and the end of December 2021.
Aviation Week reported this week that Airbus CEO Faury provided strong hints that the European based producer will raise A320 neo single aisle model production levels above the 2023 target level of 65 aircraft per month. The communication was reportedly based on comments reflecting “strong signs of recovery” coming from Airbus commercial customer in not only existing customer commitments but new order volume. A decision relative to 2024 and 2025 volume production goals is anticipated to be made sometime in the middle of 2022. As Supply Chain Matters has noted in prior industry specific commentaries, a lot will depend on the long-term health of aerospace industry supplier networks that have taken financial and headcount impacts as a result of the industry’s pandemic induced market shocks.
As of November, Boeing had reportedly delivered 302 commercial aircraft, less than half of the Airbus tally. Boeing has additionally been plagued by a number of manufacturing quality and component design setbacks that have impacted customer delivery performance, the most significant of late being Boeing 787 Dreamliner deliveries which remain on hold. In October, we highlighted a new set of executive leadership changes announced by the U.S. based manufacturer to address engineering design and manufacturing quality lapses.
The gap among these two dominant global producers of commercial aircraft is widening with the report of 2021 delivery performance. The question remains how and when Boeing will be able to narrow or exceed this leadership gap.
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