Airbus loses aeroplanes order race to Boeing

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…As Virgin Atlantic, Stobart, Cyrus buy UK airline Flybe***

Airbus won orders for 747 aircraft in 2018, down from the year before, even as the European plane maker confirmed it had struck a new industry record in terms of its order backlog, which stood at 7,577 jets.

However, Airbus’ net order intake of 747 — which is 33 per cent down from the year before — means that its U.S. rival, Boeing, has finally broken the European group’s five-year winning streak. The Chicago-based group on Tuesday, announced it had secured 893 net orders for 2018.

Airbus on Wednesday, also confirmed a statement from the day before that it had delivered 800 aircraft in 2018, a new company record, and higher than the 718 delivered in 2017.

The final delivery tally, however, included 20 A220 jets — the model Airbus acquired through its acquisition of the Bombardier C series and which became part of the group last July.

The bulk of Airbus’ deliveries to 93 customers came from 626 A320 jets, of which 386 were for its successful A320neo.

There had been speculation Airbus would fail to hit its annual delivery target after being beset by issues in the supply chain, in particular at engine manufacturers. Rival Boeing, which has also been hit by supplier problems, said on , it had delivered 806 aircraft, below its 2018 target of 810 to 815 but above 2017’s 763.

The final outcome between the world’s two biggest aircraft manufacturers is important as deliveries are watched closely by investors, as it is considered a key indicator for cash flow.

Guillaume Faury, president of Airbus’ commercial division and chief executive designate, said: “Despite significant operational challenges, Airbus continued its production ramp-up and delivered a record number of aircraft in 2018.”

The “healthy order intake” showed the “underlying strength of the commercial aircraft market,” he added, noting that the company would look to “further increase its industrial efficiency.”

In the meantime,  a consortium of Virgin Atlantic Ltd, Stobart Group Ltd and Cyrus Capital Partners agreed to buy British regional airline Flybe Group Plc, Stobart said on Friday, for 2.2 million pounds (2.81 million dollars).

The offer values Flybe at 1 pence per share, a 94 per cent discount to company’s Thursday’s closing price of 16.38 pence.

Shares in the company have risen 12.5 per cent since Flybe first said it was exploring a sale as it tried to cut capacity and costs to grapple with a weak British pound, falling demand, and higher fuel costs.

Flybe, which was advised by Evercore, recommended that its shareholders vote in favour of the deal as the terms were fair reasonable, Stobart said.

The three companies will buy Flybe through a joint venture company called Connect Airways, 40 per cent of which will be owned by Cyrus unit DLP Holdings. Stobart Group’s aviation unit and Virgin Atlantic will each hold 30 per cent.

Connect Airways will also buy Stobart Group’s regional airline and aircraft leasing business and combine the two acquired businesses.

Cyrus, Stobart and Virgin Atlantic said it would provide a 20 million pound bridge loan facility to support Flybe’s ongoing working capital and operational requirements.

The companies also plan to invest up to 80 million pounds in the combined business. 

Additional report from Guardian NG