Airbus will build on last year’s highly successful commercial performance as the company pursues its industry leadership in 2012, with the coming 12 months to include further production ramp-up for the jetliner families to meet a growing order backlog, supported by additional growth in its employee count.
Speaking to international journalists today at the New Year's press conference organised with its EADS parent company, Airbus President and CEO Tom Enders said the planned production acceleration will raise the output of Airbus’ best-selling A320 Family in 2012 to an all-time high of approximately 42 aircraft monthly, with the A380 cadence moving toward three per month, and production of the A330 rising to meet a goal of 9.5 jetliners monthly.
To meet these output rates – while also securing major programme milestones for the new A350, A320neo and A400M aircraft – Airbus will maintain a focus on expanding its workforce’s size, skills and talent – adding at least 4,000 more employees in 2012, which follows the 4,500 new recruits hired in 2011. With a focus on providing “supreme value” through the quality of its staff, Enders said Airbus spends some 100 million euros annually in employee training.
During today’s press conference, held at the company’s Hamburg, Germany industrial facility, Enders outlined Airbus’ most successful year ever in 2011, during which it logged a total 1,608 commercial gross orders (representing 56 per cent of the global market share by value), resulting in 1,419 net orders (54 per cent of market share by value) when cancellations were taken into account.
Leading the new business volume in 2011 were the total 1,226 bookings received for the A320neo new engine option – confirming its position as the fastest-selling commercial jetliner ever, and bringing overall sales for the entire A320 Family to 8,292 aircraft as of 31 December 2011.
The A380 order book also increased last year, with 29 total gross orders received from both new and repeat customers. Airbus delivered 26 of these very large jetliners in 2011– including a new high of four aircraft provided in the month of December. To date, the 21st century flagship aircraft has carried an estimated 18 million passengers in 50,000 commercial flights as the A380’s global route network continues to grow.
Enders said Airbus’ A330 continues to be “the right aircraft, right now,” with a total of 99 new gross orders booked in 2011. Its long-term popularity was underscored by the 10 customers that made repeat A330 acquisitions last year, including Cathay Pacific – which placed its ninth order for the twin-engine jetliner. Airbus’ latest version, the A330-200F freighter, received seven new orders in 2011, while four of these aircraft were among the year’s deliveries.
With its exceptional sales performance, and the record 534 commercial jetliners delivered in 2011, the company ended last year with a backlog of 4,437 aircraft – representing a combined list price value estimated at $588 billion.
John Leahy, the Airbus Chief Operating Officer – Customers, said 2011 marked the 10th consecutive year of production increases at the company, positioning Airbus as the world’s leading aircraft manufacturer in nine of these past 10 years.
“In such a cyclical industry as ours, Airbus is proud of how it has handled the smooth, continual ramp-up in deliveries over the past decade, which is much different than the ups-and-downs of our competitor’s output,” Leahy explained. “We work very hard to actively manage the way we build aircraft – and the airlines agree this is a much better way to do it.”
Looking to the future, Leahy said air travel will continue to be a growth market, with the continued trend of air traffic doubling every 15 years. Airbus’ outlook foresees commercial orders for 600-650 of its commercial jetliners in 2012, with a target of 570 deliveries to be made during the year.
Airbus Chief Operating Officer Fabrice Bregier said major programme milestones during the coming 12 months will include the start-up of final assembly for the first two A350s – with one airframe serving for ground tests and the other to be the initial flight test aircraft – along with certification of the Sharklets fuel-saving wingtip devices for the A320, and the production ramp-up for Airbus Military’s A400M airlifter.