It was revealed yesterday that Airbus and Boeing had accumulated more than 600 aircraft that are waiting to be delivered. The slump in the aviation industry caused by the global pandemic has forced airlines to ground their fleets, and many have canceled or deferred orders for new planes.
Hundreds of aircraft stockpiled by manufacturers
FlightGlobal reported that, as of July 27, Airbus and Boeing had a stockpile of 628 commercial passenger aircraft between them. According to Cirium fleets data, the planes have completed their first flights, but remain undelivered.
Boeing’s inventory stands at 462, although 423 of those are the grounded 737 MAX aircraft. The MAX cannot be delivered until regulators have lifted the regulatory grounding that was put in place in March 2019. The remainder of the undelivered planes are widebody jets, including 31 787s, five 777s, one 767, and two 747-8Fs.
The Airbus stockpile of 166 undelivered jets includes 11 A220s, 112 A320-family aircraft, 14 A330s, 25 A350s, and four A380s. A large number of the A320s are parked in the German cities of Erfurt and Rostock until the customers can finally take delivery.
Not all of the aircraft are a result of delayed deliveries. There is always some time between the first flight and delivery to the customer. Airbus has 40 planes that only made their first flight this month, while Boeing has five.
Cirium’s global head of consultancy Rob Morris says,
“We might expect this inventory to grow further as travel restrictions and continued demand weakness drive airlines to fail to accept delivery of these aircraft in a timely manner.”
Challenging times for plane makers
The COVID-19 pandemic has been devastating for many industries, but aviation has been among the hardest hit. With government-imposed travel restrictions and the resulting slump in demand for air travel, the delivery of new aircraft has become challenging.
Airbus confirmed that, as of last month, it had 130 aircraft that it couldn’t deliver as a result of the pandemic. The company said,
“Many of our customers are currently physically unable to take delivery, and many have asked for deferments. We cannot escape the COVID-related developments affecting the [airlines].”
Typically, aircraft production and delivery rates are closely matched, but that is no longer the case.
Aircraft production rates cut
As airlines slowly take to the skies once more, many are emerging from the crisis as smaller entities with much-reduced fleets. As a result, many orders for new planes have been canceled or delayed, for years in some cases.
In the first six months of 2020, Airbus delivered 196 jets, a 50% drop on last year. Boeing only delivered 70 planes in the first half of the year, a 71% reduction compared to 2019. Part of that drop is a result of the grounding of the 737 MAX.
Airbus has cut the production of narrowbody planes from 60 to 40 per month, while A330 production has been reduced from 3.5 to two per month, and A350 from 9.5 to six monthly. Boing has cut 777 output by half to 2.5 per month and reduced 787 production from 14 to 10 with a further cut seven per month by 2022.