By Tim Hepher
PARIS (Reuters) -Airbus delivered an estimated 66 jets in November, leaving itself a near-record challenge of 137 in December to meet its 2022 goal, though it has not excluded the possibility of trimming the target, industry sources said.
The world’s largest planemaker has delivered around 563 planes this year, the sources said, up from 497 between January and the end of October, or 495 after adjusting for two deliveries blocked by Russian sanctions.
An Airbus spokesperson declined comment on the November estimate, which is subject to internal audit.
A late surge pushed November higher than initially expected but failed to lift doubts over the 2022 target of “around 700” with weeks to go before the end of the year, the sources said. The previous December record of 138, seen in 2019, was achieved before COVID-19 put heavy strain on supply chains.
One industry source said the company had all but given up hope of reaching its key revenue-driving target. “They have too many problems,” the source said, asking not to be named.
Airbus will announce November deliveries on Dec. 8, which is also seen as the opportunity to give any update to end-year goals. Two sources said this had not been ruled out, while noting Airbus has a pattern of positive surprises at end-year. On Tuesday, Chief Executive Guillaume Faury appeared to tie any decisions on the target to the performance in the final days of November. Asked whether Airbus stood by its 2022 target, he declined direct comment but said he would have a clearer picture by end-November and warned the supply chain environment “remains very complex”.
Jefferies analyst Chloe Lemarie said in a note that tracking of test and delivery flights suggested there had been 65 deliveries in November.
December started at a strong pace with tracking data pointing to as many as 11 aircraft departing factories on the first day of the month, one industry source said. Departure flights and formal delivery do not always match exactly.Even so, some buyers have already seen end-year deliveries rescheduled to 2023 with exceptional volatility disrupting even some very near-term planning, two other sources said.
Airbus is also delaying some deliveries scheduled for next year.
Missing parts forced Airbus to cut the target for deliveries to 700 from 720 in July. Scattered shortages or bottlenecks continue to weigh.
“I am not concerned about the things I know, but about the things that may pop up,” Chief Operating Officer Alberto Gutierrez told reporters earlier this week when asked to summarise current risks in the supply chain.
Reuters reported on Monday that preliminary external November data and industry sources pointed to increasing challenges in reaching the revised target. Faury said on Tuesday he did not expect supply chains to ease within the next six months.
However, Airbus continues to see a strong recovery in demand, with wide-body models starting to follow demand for smaller jets with a delay of about 18 months, Chief Commercial Officer Christian Scherer told reporters this week.
(Reporting by Tim HepherEditing by Raju Gopalakrishnan and Mark Potter)