The airline industry, like the rest of the world, was faced with an unprecedented challenge when the Covid-19 pandemic started. With the health crisis slowly appearing to come to an end, the sector is starting to recover, but leading manufacturers have registered contrasting results in deliverables.
American manufacturer Boeing has recently been subject to scrutiny over safety concerns. The 737 MAX received numerous complains, culminating with the tragic accident in the southern Chinese province of Guangxi just last month. This, on top of the pandemic impact, left Boeing fall behind in the face of its European competitor Airbus.
Although Boeing and Airbus are historical competitors, the European manufacturer gained the upper hand during the health crisis, capitalizing on the global grounding and delivery pause of Boeing’s 737 MAX. Despite the 737 MAX resuming circulation, Boeing was unable to catch up.Finbold
A report from Finbold shows that the Airbus has been gaining advantage for a few years, but it was during the pandemic that the manufacturer really capitalized at the loss of its competitor. The data shows that, from the start of the pandemic in January 2020 until the end pf 2021, Airbus delivered 1,376 aircraft under all categories, 3 times more than the 466 deliveries made by Boeing over the same period.
Although in 2017 and 2018 Boeing managed to deliver a total of 1,569 aircraft, a little more than Airbus’ 1,518, overall, for the past 5 years, Airbus has had a clear advantage, with a total of 3,757 deliveries, compared to just 2,415 Boeing deliveries.
When comparing specific models of aircraft delivered in 2021, figures from Flightradar24 show that, despite the safety concerns, the 737 MAX led Boeing’s list, with 245 delivered units. For Airbus, the A320neo ranked top, with 258 delivered units, followed closely by the A321ceo and A321neo models, with 221 and 199 models respectively.
When the 737 MAX model was launched, it was supposed to compete with the Airbus A321neo, but the safety concerns and the pandemic caused a pause in its supply. The impact of this “handover halt” is further deepened by the fact that airlines that have been waiting for the aircraft for more than a year can simply cancel their contract with Boeing, which can affect Boeing’s entire product development timeline.
Despite all the drawbacks, Finbold notes that “Boeing registered an increase in deliveries between 2020 and 2021, after struggling in the wake of the crashes, the pandemic, coupled with other manufacturing issues linked to inspections that halted the handovers of its 787 Dreamliners”. Furthermore, both companies seem to be facing quality challenges and Airbus’ A350 paint issue with Qatar Airways “might open the door for Boeing”.