Airbus has weathered one of the toughest episodes in aviation history by reporting a rise in aircraft deliveries for the first six months of 2009. But the worst could be yet to come with new orders for the period shrinking a massive 86% to 68, compared with 487 in the same period last year.
The Toulouse-based aerospace giant delivered 254 aircraft in the six months, up from 245 a year ago.
The net number of commercial planes ordered in the first six months of the year was 68, compared with 487 in the same period in 2008.
However its new orders for the first half of the year have slumped 86% to €6.19bn from €44.1bn the previous year.
In 2008, it delivered a record 483 aircraft, beating its main rival Boeing to the top spot as the world’s largest planemaker. It also said it expected deliver “at least” that many in 2009, as its order book showed “overbooking for the coming years”.
It is also keeping to its order forecast for the year, expecting up to 300 new Airbus orders in 2009, although it also conceded that that goal may be “challenging” in the current market environment.
Airbus’s parent company EADS reported a drop in first-half profits. A slump in military orders and production delays of its A400M outweighed the commercial gains with overall number for the group falling.
Aircraft orders in the first half of 2009 dropped to €17.2bn (£14.8bn) from €51.2bn a year earlier. First-half earnings before interest and taxes fell 23% to €888m, hit by foreign exchange weakness and lower prices for aircraft.
The group reported a 6% fall in net profit to €378m in the first half of 2009, but said its net cash position of €8.1bn was a “strong asset”. It has received just 90 orders so far this year.
EADS chief executive Louis Gallois described the group as in “good shape”. He said: “We are sticking to our priorities: protecting cash, managing the order book and deliveries and ensuring that EADS is competitively positioned in its different market segments.”
But Ryanair’s chief financial officer Howard Millar this week accused plane manufacturers were “in denial.”
He said: “They’re thinking they got a huge backlog which will see them through but in reality that backlog is very shaky and could disappear. They’ll end up having to deal with people like Ryanair.”
The attack follows Airbus saying it would not negotiate with the budget airline on the grounds it could not meet Ryanair’s pricing requirements.