Airbus Aircraft Deliveries Go Up; Boeing Struggle Worsens?

By Spyros Georgilidakis | April 4, 2024

Airbus aircraft deliveries in Q1 2024 are looking quite respectable, but monthly Boeing 737 production is reportedly close to single digits.

Last year’s first quarter wasn’t a happy time for Airbus. The European manufacturer was hoping to put multiple supply issues behind it, chasing an aggressive production ramp-up through the year. Instead, persistent supply problems meant that Airbus matched Boeing on deliveries for the first two months of that year.

Photo: MarcelX42, CC BY-SA 4.0

Airbus eventually reached its delivery goals in 2023. And this year, the European manufacturer’s deliveries in the first quarter numbered 142 aircraft, according to industry sources. This is 12% more than last year and similar to what Airbus did in 2022.

Unlike Airbus, the main worry at the Boeing camp isn’t about deliveries. Here, the issue is aircraft production, particularly the 737’s. Reuters reports that Boeing’s monthly output for the jet was close to single digits in March. That’s as opposed to the FAA-limited 38-aircraft monthly output.

Airbus Aircraft Deliveries Go Up; Boeing Struggle Worsens?
Boeing’s 737 factory in Renton. Photo: Jelson25, CC BY-SA 3.0

Airbus Deliveries, Boeing Production, and… Engines

There are two reasons for these delays. Firstly, there is more scrutiny on production from the FAA “…than anything we’ve ever been through before”, according to Boeing chief financial officer Brian West. Secondly, Boeing is taking steps to avoid traveled work on its production line.

Airbus Aircraft Deliveries Go Up; Boeing Struggle Worsens?
737 fuselages at Spirit’s factory in Wichita. Photo: Spirit AeroSystems

Aircraft manufacturers pay the bulk of the price of each aircraft when they pick it up. So obviously, the vast difference in deliveries between Airbus and Boeing has serious implications for their revenue. However, Boeing is delivering more jets than it is producing, thanks to previously undelivered jets in its inventory.

Meanwhile, the monthly output of the Airbus A320neo family is at approximately 50 aircraft. In total, Airbus hopes to make 800 aircraft deliveries this year, while the crisis at Boeing makes any such estimates practically impossible.

Before the engine surplus: when there is a lack of engines, Boeing uses weights (in yellow). This a Southwest 737-8 (N8709Q) back in 2017. Photo (cropped): John Crowley, CC BY-SA 2.0

However, CFM continues to deliver engines for the 737 at a normal rate, which is creating an engine surplus at Boeing. This is in sharp contrast to the situation a couple of years ago when Boeing was removing engines from undelivered 737s (meant for Chinese airlines) to use on newer aircraft.


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