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Airbus and Boeing to deliver more than 1000 aircraft in 2022; more to come in 2023

Analysis

Airbus and Boeing continued to enjoy an upswing in ordering and aircraft production through 3Q2022, putting both manufacturers on the path towards a better 2023.

The two major Western OEMs are poised to exceed 1000 aircraft deliveries in 2022, and both are looking to ramp up deliveries further in 2023, and achieve full recovery somewhere in the middle of the decade.  

Based on production plans, declared targets and historical delivery patterns, the two major OEMs should deliver somewhere above 1100 aircraft in 2022, putting global deliveries back towards where they were in 2012.

Combined, the two OEMs delivered 898 aircraft in 2021.  

Summary:

  • Airbus and Boeing continued to enjoy an upswing in ordering and aircraft production through 3Q2022.
  • The two major OEMs are poised to exceed 1000 aircraft deliveries in 2022, and both are looking to ramp up deliveries further in 2023.
  • Over the first three quarters of 2022 the two OEMs delivered a combined total of 766 commercial aircraft.
  • Mainline narrowbodies have been responsible for most of the delivery increase so far in 2022.

Airbus and Boeing enjoy upswing in ordering and aircraft production

Over the first three quarters of 2022, the two OEMs delivered a combined total of 766 commercial aircraft.

Airbus and Boeing: cumulative commercial aircraft deliveries (2021 and 2022 YTD)

Airbus delivered 436 aircraft to customers, which was a minor increase on to the same point in 2021, when the European OEM had delivered 421 aircraft.

Boeing delivered 330 aircraft, which was an increase of nearly two thirds compared to deliveries to Sep-2021. With three months remaining in the year, and deliveries trending up on several key programmes, Boeing has already almost matched its deliveries for the full year 2021.

Boeing rebuilding deliveries with the 737 MAX and 787

Mainline narrowbodies have been responsible for most of the delivery increase so far in 2022 – mostly in the form of more 737 MAXs. Boeing started the year with more than 330 737 MAX aircraft in inventory and the OEM has progressively ramped up deliveries – both of stored aircraft and of new-build airframes.

For the year to Sep-2022, 737 MAX deliveries were 262 aircraft – an average of just over 29 per month.

Of these, 70 to 80 deliveries were reportedly from Boeing’s stock of inventoried aircraft remaining from the 737 MAX grounding, while the rest were new aircraft fresh from the production line at Everett.

Boeing 737 MAX: deliveries (Jan-2018 to Sep-2022)

With the 737 MAX grounding over and deliveries recommencing in most markets (with the notable exception of China), Boeing has been progressively rebuilding 737 MAX production rates.

In Jul-2022 the OEM reported that 737 MAX out had reached 31 aircraft per month. Boeing had originally hoped to reach this production level during early 2022, but suffered setbacks due to issues in the supply chain and skilled labour shortages. 

Boeing’s target for 2023 is to raise 737 MAX production to 37 per month during 1H2023 and then build rapidly from there. The US manufacturer reportedly plans to raise output up to 47 per month by the end of 2023 or early 2024. However, during Aug-2022 Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun admitted that these targets may not be achievable due to the COVID-19 pandemic-induced supply and labour issues.

Notably, the 737 MAX programme’s sole engine supplier, CFM International, has been struggling to respond to calls to raise output.

Boeing has been reluctant to build airframes without engines – something its rival Airbus has been recently forced to do – and has instead started taking engines from grounded aircraft, then installing them on new-production aircraft.

The US manufacturer has also recently resumed 787 deliveries, with three going to customers in Aug-2022 and seven in Sep-2022.

Boeing has around 120 787s in inventory awaiting delivery to customers – although each aircraft will need to undergo a full inspection to address production issues before delivery is permitted.  

Airbus deliveries steady as supply chain issues continue

While Boeing has been able to ramp up deliveries thanks to its large stock of grounded aircraft, Airbus has supply chain and production issue of its own, which means that it has only been able to raise output marginally.

Deliveries of the A220 narrowbody for the year to date are 34 aircraft, matching deliveries to the same point in 2021. Notably, Airbus delivered no A220s in August, reportedly due to supply chain issues, before delivering four in Sep-2022.

A320 family deliveries were 335, comprising 169 A321s, 165 A320s and just six A319s. Deliveries have averaged just under 34 per month, against a nominal production rate of 45 A320s per month.   

Airbus: narrowbody aircraft deliveries (Jan-2022 to Sep-2022)

Airbus has ambitious plans to ramp up narrowbody output beyond pre-pandemic levels over the next three or so years.

A320 family production is due to reach 50 per month by the end of 2022 and Airbus is targeting deliveries of 65 A320s per month by early 2024. Beyond this, the OEM is aiming for 75 per month sometime around 2025, a level Airbus CEO Guillame Faury believes is “backed by strong customer demand” and can be supported.

Airbus is centring on the A321 for its production ramp-up output.

The aircraft is now the most popular variant of the A320 family, accounting for 55% of Airbus’ total narrowbody order backlog, thanks to the popularity of the long range A321LR and A321XLR in the ‘middle of the market’ segment. These aircraft are also good for Airbus’ balance sheet, commanding a price premium over the smaller and shorter-ranged versions.

A220 output is also due to increase, as Airbus seeks to progress the programme towards break-even and eventual profitability. Deliveries for 2022 are expected to be somewhere between 50 and 60 aircraft – slightly bettering production of the type in 2021.

Production in 2023 could be as high as 90 to 100 aircraft (7.5 per month), with deliveries to be firmly above 100 from 2024 onwards. 

Year to date ordering reflects longer term patterns

Ordering has also improved compared to 2022. Boeing has logged 542 (gross), and Airbus has logged 856 (also gross), for a combined total of 1398.

After cancellations, total orders have fallen to 428 for Boeing and 647 for Airbus, for a combined total of 1075. In comparison, gross combined orders at the same point in 2021 were 1313 and net orders were 935.

Sep-2022 ordering was slow for Airbus, with a total of just 13 aircraft – 11 A320 family aircraft and two A330s – from four customers.

In addition, the OEM received cancellations for three aircraft – two A319neos and an A220 – reducing its net order total to 10.

Boeing had a much better month, logging 81 commercial aircraft orders (as well as 15 orders for 767s for the USAF aerial tanker programme). Notable orders included 42 737 MAXs for WestJet, 16 787s for China Airlines, and 12 777Xs from ‘Undisclosed Customer(s)’.

For the first nine months of 2022 Airbus has gathered a total of 647 net orders, and Boeing has logged 428.

Boeing has done substantially better with cancellations, with Airbus losing 209 orders for the year to date – the largest of these was AirAsia X, cancelling orders for 63 A330-900s in Apr-2022.

The ordering for the year to date reflects the ordering trends of the last four to five years – Airbus has consistently outperformed Boeing when it comes to raw numbers of orders, mostly in the form of narrowbody designs, whereas Boeing has an advantage in widebodies. Boeing has logged 95 widebody orders for the year to date, whereas Airbus is at a net -74 widebody orders, mostly due to AirAsia X’s decision to cancel orders for 63 aircraft.

1000 plus aircraft in 2022, more to come in 2023

Based on production plans, declared targets and historical delivery patterns, the two major OEMs should deliver somewhere above 1100 aircraft in 2022, putting global deliveries back towards where they were in 2012.

Combined, the two OEMs delivered 898 aircraft in 2021.

Boeing plans to deliver a little more than 400 737 MAX aircraft in 2022, most of which will be new-build aircraft – along with about 100 widebodies. Boeing’s stored inventory of 737 MAX and 787 aircraft also gives it plenty of headroom to raise deliveries in 4Q2022 and into 2023 and 2024, even if some suppliers continue to struggle to meet delivery plans.

Airbus set a delivery target of 720 aircraft at the start of the year and reduced it to 700 aircraft during 2Q2022 due to production and supply chain issues.

With three months to go, Airbus needs to push out another 264 aircraft to meet its full-year target. This will be a tough ask given the state of global supply chains.

Historically, the fourth quarter has been Airbus’ key period – accounting for anywhere from 29% to 35% of deliveries in a given year – but meeting this target will essentially require delivery rates to double for 4Q2022 compared to the rest of 2022.

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