unhappy customers

Engine Stall at Airbus

  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    Airbus, Europe’s biggest aerospace group, urgently needs to ramp up the delayed  production of its A320neo planes to meet its ambitious goals for 2017.

  • Facts


    • Airbus is behind schedule on deliveries of its new fuel-efficient and quieter A320neo aircraft due to technical problems and delays affecting its Pratt & Whitney engines.
    • Airbus predicted it will improve on last year’s record performance by delivering more than 700 aircraft and achieving a “mid-single-digit” growth in adjusted earnings before interest and tax. But that hinges on timely deliveries of the A320neo.
    • Customers are starting to get annoyed. Meanwhile, rival plane builders are emerging in Russia and China — but it’s doubtful whether they’ll be able to break up the global duopoly of Airbus-Boeing.
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An Airbus A320neo ‘quiet jet’ is pictured at the ILA Berlin Air Show in Schoenefeld
Visitors at last year's Berlin air show ILA got a glimpse of the new "quiet jet." Picture source: Reuters

Airbus has said it will need to “deliver, deliver and deliver” to reach its goals for 2017. Instead, it’s been delay, delay and delay for Europe’s biggest aerospace group.

It admitted this week that it may have to cut production of its A380 superjumbo to fewer than one a month due to weak sales. Even worse, production of the much-anticipated A320neo regional jet was “to some extent” being delayed by problems with the delivery of engines from Pratt & Whitney, sales chief John Leahy said at the annual meeting of the International Air Transport Association in Cancun, Mexico.

Those delays are so pronounced that they’re affecting the commute of employees at the Airbus plant in Hamburg-Finkenwerder. Parking space in front of the factory has been taken up by half-finished planes waiting for engines to turn the bestselling A320 jet into the A320neo, short for “new engine option.”

It’s a major problem for Airbus, whose shareholders include the French, German and Spanish governments. Its ambitious goals for this year hinge on timely production of the A320. It has forecast that it will beat last year’s record performance by delivering more than 700 aircraft and achieving “mid-single-digit” growth in adjusted earnings before interest and tax.

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