FILE PHOTO: An Airbus A350 takes off at the aircraft builder’s headquarters in Colomiers near Toulouse, France, September 27, 2019. REUTERS/Regis Duvignau
PARIS (Reuters) – Airbus is on course to end 2019 with all major civil aircraft programmes showing a book-to-bill ratio above one, chief commercial jet salesman Christian Scherer said on Wednesday.
In a year marked by trade tensions and U.S. tariffs, Airbus turned in a strong performance that may reach gross sales of 1,000 planes, Scherer suggested – adding that trade duties nonetheless posed a “very serious problem” for airline clients.
A book-to-bill ratio above one would signify a higher value in new orders than for deliveries during the year, after Airbus notched up 940 gross sales in the first 11 months.
“We are very satisfied indeed with our sales performance,” Scherer said on a conference call organised by France’s AJPAE aerospace media association.
He also denied that Airbus stood to benefit from rival Boeing’s (BA.N) decision to suspend production of its grounded 737 MAX jet after two deadly crashes, emphasising that the disruption would hurt the sector at large.
“We’re in a growth industry,” Scherer said. “When you have one player that isn’t playing its part, it’s extremely destructive.”
The eventual development of a larger version of the Airbus A220 was “not a question of if, but when”, Scherer said, adding that it is not currently under consideration.
A replacement for the larger A320 jet family will also have to wait for a breakthrough improvement in environmental and economic performance unlikely before the 2030s, Scherer said.
Reporting by Laurence Frost and Tim Hepher; editing by Louise Heavens