Aero-engine makers seek boost from major Airbus China deal

Updated: 2015-07-02 10:23


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South African swap

Airbus has won orders for 71 A330 aircraft in recent weeks and is on course to lift this beyond 100 if the second part of the China order and other pending deals are completed.

It had an unfilled order backlog for 168 current-version A330s at end-May and analysts say it needs to increase this to around 300 to make a smooth transition to the new A330neo.

After 20 orders from Saudi Arabia and at least 45 from China, it is closing in on a deal with South African Airways to swap an order for 10 smaller A320s for five A330s, industry sources said.

Airbus has also won six orders for a military air tanker version of the A330 in the past week, including four from South Korea and two more from Australia.

In addition it will seek to finalize a draft order for two A330s from Rwandair after the airline was reported to have won a loan from an African regional bank to finance the deal.

After a renaissance in sales driven by delays in deliveries of rival Boeing's new 787 Dreamliner, which have since abated, the 20-year-old A330 has also been helped by lower oil prices.

But industry sources say squeezing out the remaining sales is complicated by fragile second-hand values for the current A330 model as Airbus gets ready to develop the new A330neo.

Airbus may need to discount sharply, but by doing so it risks alienating those existing owners who depend on solid secondary market values to realize their investments, a senior aircraft market executive said.

Airbus has meanwhile carried out a cut in A330 output to nine a month from 10, originally planned for the fourth quarter, a spokesman said. It plans to reduce this further to six a month in the first quarter of next year, but the major Chinese order has dispelled concerns that it could have to cut even more.

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