Brussels (Brussels Morning) European commercial plane manufacturer Airbus posted a loss of nearly half a billion euro in 2020, and is facing more uncertainties in the current year as the future of the air transport industry remains clouded by the coronavirus pandemic, Reuters reported.
Airbus remains better positioned than its US rival Boeing, which dropped into second place in global market share last year after two deadly plane crashes revealed a series of design failures on what was to become its bestselling model, the 737 MAX.
Boeing’s failed flagship product was finally recertified for flight in the EU and other countries this year, though the scandal put a serious dent in its sales figures even prior to the pandemic which has grounded nearly all air traffic.
Airbus CEO Guillaume Faury stated that the company expects to deliver “at least” 566 planes during 2021, the same as last year, when production was at 40% of peak level. However, Faury conceded that the actual level of deliveries will depend on demand from airlines, many of which are facing bankruptcy or are heavily dependent on state aid.
Falling demand left some 100 completed jets sitting idly outside Airbus factories, waiting for their future owners, with the company hoping its production will stop exceeding demand in the near future. It has already struck some 100 billion euro from the value of its unfilled order book, reducing it to 373 billion euro.
This correction, together with costs associated with winding down the loss-making Airbus A380 project, accounted for most of the company’s total operating loss of 510 million euro in 2020. However, when adjusted for one-off expenses, the company would have posted a 1.7-billion euro profit. The figure would have been 75% lower than its 2019 profit, though it still shows the company can maintain profitability even in the face of the pandemic crisis.