A400M, the other thorn in Airbus’ side

Peng Chen

Presenting the annual results of Airbus Group, CEO Tom Enders gave an update on the A400M program. He announced there would be exports of the military aircraft assembled in Seville, but warned “they would be in the hundreds”, a way more pragmatic forecast compared to the 400 sales expected before.

To this day, 174 aircraft were already sold. 17 A400M were delivered in 2018, compared to the 19 of the previous year. But Airbus has yet to sell A400M to an external customer. If the company fails to enter the US market, potential clients could be found in Latin America. In this regard, the production still requires the clear support of the initial countries, as, in Enders’ words, “you can not get customers without the support of governments”.

Enders also announced that the program would cost an estimated additional €436 million, a forecast which is “the outcome of the negotiations [with the partner countries] and updated estimates on the export scenario, escalation and some cost increases”. The CEO showed confidence, stating that “all in all, we have achieved significant de-risking of the A400M in 2018”. But that latest addition put the total at €5.5 billion of provision from Airbus for the program.

From next year, the production of the A400M should go down to eight aircraft per year while Airbus is looking for new customers. So far, in addition to the partner countries, namely Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Spain and Turkey, that acquired 170 aircraft, only four A400Ms were sold and already delivered to Malaysia.

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