Airbus said it expects to deliver 720 commercial aircraft in 2022, up from 611 in 2021, after announcing record net profit for 2021.
However, reaching that target will be no easy matter as the world recovers from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We see difficulties with raw materials, logistics, cost of energy and hiring people back, so we have a complex environment,” chief executive Guillaume Faury said in an online press conference on February 17, 2022. “We have given a guidance we can reach 720 this year, so that’s the challenge for the year.”
The European aerospace and defense giant reported net income of €4.2 billion ($4.8 billion) for 2021, up from a loss of €1.1 billion ($1.3 billion) in 2020. Revenues rose 4% to €51.1 billion ($58.2 billion).
Airbus said in a statement on February 17, 2022 that the good financial results reflect higher aircraft deliveries, cost controls and good performances at its helicopters, defense and space businesses.
Faury described the results as “remarkable”.
“2021 was a year of transition, where our attention shifted from navigating the pandemic towards recovery and growth,” Faury commented in the statement.
Airbus is currently embroiled in a public dispute with customer Qatar Airways over surface degradation issues with A350 long-haul jets. Airbus has revoked orders for 50 Airbus A321neo aircraft and two Airbus A350-1000 orders.
“When it comes to dispute with Qatar, we don’t feel good,” Faury said in the press conference.
“It’s a unique situation, a very public dispute and has been made public by our customer. “We have to deal with the situation, take steps to protect ourselves and the company, try to resolve in an amicable way if possible.”
For 2022, Airbus said its key priorities were to strengthen the backlog and deliver on its commercial aircraft ramp-up.
The company wants to increase production of the best-selling A320 family aircraft to 65 per month by summer 2023. These plans are on track, Airbus said, and it is trying to mitigate risk by “enabling all assembly sites to become A321-ready”.
Airbus wants to increase production rates further, but its supply chain partners have raised concerns. Before the pandemic, Airbus had to cut production rates after suppliers couldn’t keep up with demand.
Faury said Airbus was assessing production rates for 2024, 2025 and beyond and a decision could be expected by the middle of 2022.
“We are assessing the situation and the demand and the supply capacity to decide what we want to do for 2024, 2025 and beyond. [Rate] 70, 75 is making sense but no decision has been taken yet,” he said on the conference.
On the defense side, Airbus delivered eight A400M aircraft in 2021. It took a €212 million ($241 million) charge related to the program in 2021, reflecting updated estimates for deliveries in the launch contract.
“On the A400M programme, development activities continued toward achieving the revised capability roadmap. Retrofit activities are progressing in close alignment with the customer,” it said in the statement on February 17, 2022.
Airbus expects profits to rise again in 2022. It is aiming for adjusted earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) of €5.5 billion ($6.3 billion), up from €4.9 billion ($5.6 billion) in 2021.
Here’s one last look at 2021. Thanks to #TeamAirbus, to our partners and customers for these strong #AirbusResults. There’s so much more to achieve together – I’m excited for what’s next! pic.twitter.com/S7Q9X8eAaS— Guillaume Faury (@GuillaumeFaury) February 17, 2022