Berlin: The world’s largest plane maker, Airbus SAS, said orders for its A380 superjumbo may be one-third lower than previously predicted this year as higher fuel costs and an economic slowdown dent demand for travel.
Airbus may receive about 20 orders for the 525-seat jetliner in 2008, John Leahy, the company’s chief operating officer and senior salesman, said on Wednesday at the Berlin Air Show. Toulouse, France-based Airbus had forecast 30 orders as recently as 20 February. Production schedules should not be affected, he added.
Airlines are curbing spending as they confront losses that may total $40 billion (Rs1.72 trillion) this year, according to aviation analyst Chris Tarry. While Airbus has been forecasting as few as 700 orders in 2008, the lowest number in four years, a recent round of price increases is “sticking”, said Leahy, who announced a 35-plane, $5.17 billion order from Gulf Air Co. GSC.
“Traffic is slowing across the board,” said Doug McVitie, managing director of Arran Aerospace in Dinan, France. “No sector of the market is exempt. Low cost, high volume—it’s the whole global market.”
Airbus’ parent European Aeronautic Defence and Space Co. (EADS) rose 3.2% in Paris. The stock has slumped 31% this year.
EADS posted an operating loss for the first time in its eight-year history last year amid delays and cost overruns on the A380 and Airbus’ A400M military-transport programme.
Airbus had announced on 13 May that the A380, already two years late, faces another three months of production delays. The division is struggling to keep the A400M’s delays from exceeding earlier postponements of six months to one year.
India is among the weakest airliner markets right now and carriers there may cancel or delay plane contracts in the next 12 months, Leahy said. Global orders at Airbus last year totalled a record 1,341 planes.
Oil prices reached an all-time high of $135.09 a barrel on 22 May and have doubled in the past year. That may add as much as $65 billion to airline costs, according to London-based Tarry, who worked at Dresdner Kleinwort Ltd and Commerzbank AG before becoming an independent analyst. The industry’s record loss was $12 billion in 2001 following the 11 September terrorist attacks on the US.
Airbus leads Boeing Co. in plane contracts this year. At the end of April, the European company had 397 orders. Boeing had 378 orders as of 20 May, according to the Chicago-based company’s website.