© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: An Airbus A330neo performs during the inauguration of the 53rd Paris International Air Show at Le Bourget Airport near Paris, France, June 17, 2019. REUTERS / Benoit Tessier / Pool
By Tim Hepher
PARIS (Reuters) – Airbus lost a fifth of its pending orders for the A330neo long-haul jet in March as its biggest customer went through a restructuring, but it won sales. orders elsewhere for more than 100 of its smaller jets, monthly data showed Friday.
AirAsia X has canceled 63 A330-900 versions of the A330neo, an upgrade of the aging A330 wide-body model, as well as 10 smaller A321neo planes, Airbus said.
The European plane maker also said it delivered 142 planes in the first quarter, up more than 13% year-on-year. However, the actual number of deliveries reached only 140 after two of Aeroflot’s were canceled due to sanctions against Russia.
The widely tracked total deliveries confirm a range reported this week by Reuters, citing sources – higher than some analysts had predicted.
The A330neo is a fuel-efficient version of Airbus’ best-selling wide-body jet to make room under the A350 and compete with Boeing (NYSE:787 Dreamliner) at a lower price point.
The aircraft benefited from a flood of initial orders only because demand was volatile as it relied heavily on struggling Air Asia X.
Airbus has been steadily reducing its presence on the books of supposedly unfulfilled orders while turning its attention to booming sales for the A321neo narrow-body aircraft.
“It’s always a shock to see a large fuselage cancellation but these planes probably didn’t count towards investors’ delivery forecasts,” said Agency Partners analyst Sash Tusa. for at least the past three years”.
“With the focus on strong demand for A321neo, this is a good opportunity to review A330neo orders and clear up the backlog.”
In legal testimony on Thursday, Airbus minimized the benefit of its best-selling A321neo over Boeing’s 737 MAX 10, as opposed to its own marketing ploy, but analysts described the move This is a courtroom tactic in a bitter legal dispute with Qatar Airways.
After canceling Friday’s order, Airbus has 200 undelivered A330neos in its order book compared with 265 a month ago. These include 28 for Iran under the nuclear deal that collapsed in 2018, although Tehran is in talks with major powers to restore the deal.
On Friday, Airbus said it sold a total of 253 jets in the first quarter, or a total of 83 after canceling flights. Rival Boeing will release quarterly data next week.