Airbus sets sales record in 2023 amid surging jet demand

LONDON – Airbus set a sales record in 2023 by racking up more than 2,000 net orders, as airlines splashed out on purchases amid surging demand for fuel-efficient aircraft following the pandemic.

The European planemaker registered 2,094 net orders, driven largely by mega deals from India’s IndiGo and Air India, as well as a purchase by Turkish Airlines that was announced in December. Airbus also beat its annual delivery target in 2023 by achieving 735 handovers. The goal had been for about 720 deliveries.

Airbus comfortably broke its previous sales record, set in 2014 on a gross basis, in what has been one of the most active purchasing periods in aviation history. The company’s A320neo family of single-aisle aircraft has been particularly successful, but Airbus has also gained momentum with its A350 widebody model, most notably the larger -1000 variant.

Demand for both single-aisle and widebody jetliners have recovered from the pandemic “much sooner than expected, and with vigour,” said Christian Scherer, the chief executive officer for commercial aircraft at Airbus. “Travel is back and there is serious momentum.”

Orders exceeding 100 aircraft, once a rare occurrence, were increasingly commonplace in 2023 and Airbus and rival Boeing are practically sold out for the rest of the decade on their best-selling models. Airbus is also out of widebody delivery slots until 2028, Scherer said.

The European planemaker is on track to meet its production ramp-up goals this year, CEO Guillaume Faury said on a media call on Jan 11. The company sees the supply chain continuing to be tense but improving, Mr Faury said, after the planemaker repeatedly warned of strains in Covid-19’s aftermath.

Boeing also managed its highest annual sales total in almost a decade: 1,456 gross, or 1,314 planes net of cancellations and conversions, according to a statement earlier in the week. Still, that achievement has been marred by increased scrutiny over its workhorse 737 jet following an accident on an Alaska Airlines flight on Jan 5 that has led to a partial grounding of the 737 Max 9 fleet. BLOOMBERG

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