Aircraft orders dry up as industry records worst ever January – The Guardian

Airline industry

Sector recorded no new orders for passenger aircraft at all, with only four cargo planes booked

Mon 22 Feb 2021 01.00 EST

Orders for new aircraft all but dried up in January as the airline industry continued to be buffeted by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Just four commercial aircraft orders were placed last month, according to ADS, the UK trade organisation. That’s the worst January on record for orders, down from 296 in January 2020.

These orders were all for widebody aircraft – four 747-8 freighters produced by Boeing, with no new orders of passenger aircraft. No orders for single-aisle aircraft were placed, for the first January on record, with the global pandemic and international travel restrictions continuing to suppress demand.

ADS said the figures provided a “stark comparison” with January 2020, when orders of single-aisle planes hit a record high of 285, before the Covid-19 crisis struck.

ADS’s chief executive, Paul Everitt, said the UK government should ensure financial support reaches airlines, airports and aerospace companies to help them survive the crisis.

“We are almost a year into the global pandemic and the UK’s aerospace sector continues to struggle with draconian travel restrictions,” said Everitt.

“Whilst I am confident travel demand will return, the timing of the recovery is now more difficult to predict. Co-ordinated international action is necessary to reopen borders and allow consumers to travel with confidence.”

Aircraft orders, to January 2021 Photograph: ADS

Aircraft deliveries in January 2021 rose by 7% year on year, with 47 deliveries made – 26 by US manufacturer Boeing and 21 by Europe’s Airbus. Boeing’s delivery total included 21 737 Max jets, which were recently given approval to fly again after a 20-month ban.

But the backlog of aircraft orders fell last month to 12,989, 8% lower than a year ago, and the first time since July 2015 that manufacturers have had fewer than 13,000 orders on their books.

ADS blamed the decline on a combination of too few new orders coming in, and a rise in cancellations in recent months as airlines cut back due to weak demand. Six plane orders, all at Boeing, were cancelled last January.

During 2020 as a whole, aircraft orders tumbled by 59%, with no new planes ordered in September.

Last week Airbus reported a loss of more than €1bn (£860m) for last year, after deliveries of commercial aircraft fell by a third to 566, down sharply from 863 in 2019, amid a flurry of cancelled orders.

The group, which operates factories in Filton, near Bristol, and Broughton, north Wales, also warned that deliveries are unlikely to improve this year.

ADS also reported that orders for new jet engines fell 97% in January. Just 16 were ordered – all for widebody planes – down from a total of 552 in January 2020.