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Airbus wins December deliveries some breathing room after busy November



PARIS (Reuters) – Airbus (AIR.PA) has left itself a slightly less challenging task on deliveries for the final weeks of the year than 2017’s record surge in December, but only after trimming the target with its most recent results, company data showed on Friday.

An Airbus A330neo is pictured on its final assembly line at Airbus headquarters in Colomiers, near Toulouse, France, November 26, 2018. REUTERS/Regis Duvignau

Airbus said it had delivered 673 aircraft up to the end of November, leaving 109 aircraft still to be delivered in December in order to reach a core target of 782 deliveries – excluding the recently acquired Bombardier CSeries, now selling as the A220.

Airbus in October said it maintained a target of 800 deliveries for 2018, but that these would now include 18 A220 models previously been excluded from the goal – a move equivalent to cutting the core Airbus target by 2 percent to 782 aircraft.

Had it not done so, it would have had to repeat last year’s record feat of 127 deliveries in December, after taking into account a 20 percent rise in deliveries last month.

Airbus recently took formal control of the former Bombardier A220 after buying it to bolster its lineup of larger jets and thwart a possible sale of the project to China, a future aerospace rival.

Still, it has been struggling to keep its own deliveries on track this year due to a combination of engine delays and industrial problems.

Most industry sources have estimated it will hit the recently softened target, but with a razor-thin margin for error.

November saw an acceleration of deliveries to airlines linked to China’s debt-laden HNA Group, including five for Beijing Capital airlines, directly or via leasing firms.

Reuters last month reported Airbus was set to resume stalled deliveries of jets to HNA Group.

November also saw the first delivery of the upgraded A330neo long-range range model to TAP Portugal.

Further A330neo deliveries have been slowed by snags at engine maker Rolls-Royce (RR.L) and Airbus’s incoming chief executive said last month those delays should be re-absorbed by end-2019.

Emirates took two A380 deliveries in November.

On the order front, Airbus sold 40 planes commercially plus three internally for conversion to air tankers.

Its January-November tally of 439 gross orders – or 380 after cancellations – leaves it well behind rival Boeing Co’s (BA.N) totals of 821 gross and 642 net orders up to the end of October, the latest period for which figures are available.

Earlier on Friday, leasing firm Avolon firmed up an order for 100 A320-family aircraft that will appear in the year-end order count, due to be released in mid-January.

Reporting by Tim Hepher, editing by G Crosse