Airbus lifts delivery target to all-time high

Bullish outlook: An Airbus A320-200 passenger jet flies above a construction site during take-off in Johannesburg. Airbus is looking at lifting build rates for its best-selling A320 narrow-bodies beyond the targeted 63 a month. — Bloomberg

LONDON: Airbus SE plans to increase jetliner deliveries to an all-time high in 2020 as it irons out production snags involving the A320 narrow-body model while Boeing Co’s rival 737 Max remains grounded.

The European planemaker aims to hand over about 880 jets, up from 863 in 2019, which was already a record. It’s targeting free cash flow of 4 billion euros (US$4.3bil), a 500 million-euro increase.

The Toulouse, France-based group bolstered its advantage in the narrow-body market, where Boeing Co’s Max is grounded, raising its stake in the A220 jet developed by Canada’s Bombardier Inc.

Airbus said it’s looking at lifting build rates for its best-selling A320 narrow-bodies beyond the targeted 63 a month, with discussions underway to add one or two more a month after 2021.

While demand for single-aisle jets is soaring, production of the wide-body A350 will be held at nine or 10 a month in 2020, with deliveries of the mid-sized A330 dropping to around 40 for the year from 53.

Airbus had a net loss after a 1.2 billion charge against the A400M military transport plane, partly due to a German ban on military exports to Saudi Arabia.

Airbus shares had gained 4.7% this year as of Wednesday’s close. That follows a 55% jump in 2019, when Boeing rose just 1% after two fatal crashes involving the Max tipped the US company into crisis.

Airbus had 2019 adjusted earnings before interest and tax of 6.95 billion euros, ahead of estimates.

It’s targeting 7.5 billion euros this year, before a 3.6 billion-euro settlement for a bribery probe. — Bloomberg

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