Airbus orders plunge 65 per cent as airlines hunker down

PARIS (AFP) – European plane maker Airbus said on Friday that it garnered just 268 net new orders last year, a drop of 65 per cent year-on-year reflecting persistent fears about the prospects for air travel amid the coronavirus crisis.

The new orders take into account 115 cancellations as airlines scaled back their ambitions because of uncertainty about how long international travel restrictions will remain in place.

Deliveries of completed Airbus planes also suffered, falling 34 per cent to 566 planes last year.

“Based on our 2020 deliveries, we are cautiously optimistic as we look into 2021, although challenges and uncertainties remain high in the short term,” Chief Executive Guillaume Faury said in a statement.

The company scaled back production at its factories by 40 per cent last spring, and Faury said in October that no uptick was expected before the third quarter of 2021.

Airlines are facing their worst year ever, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) warned in November, with the COVID crisis likely to have slashed industry revenue by 60 per cent in 2020.

Even though airlines have reduced costs by USD1 billion a day, grounded fleets and cut jobs, they are still racking up huge and “unprecedented” losses, the IATA said.

File photo shows an Airbus A350-1000 parked on the tarmac in front of the Airbus pavilion at Le Bourget. PHOTO: AFP