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October’s deliveries of Airbus were down just 6.5% from 77 aircraft in the same month in 2019.

Benoit Tessier/Reuters

Airbus delivered 72 aircraft in October, nearly matching its tally in the same month last year, as it focuses on stabilising cash generation to weather the coronavirus crisis.

Europe’s largest planemaker said deliveries for the first ten months of 2020 reached 413 aircraft, down 36% from the same period a year ago. However, October’s deliveries were down just 6.5% from 77 aircraft in the same month in 2019.

Airbus sold 11 jets last month, mainly to private jet operators amid a COVID-related slump in demand, and received another three A220 cancellations from Macquarie Financial Holdings, a unit of Australia’s Macquarie Group.

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So far this year Airbus has sold 381 jets, or 308 after cancellations, outstripping Boeing in orders and deliveries as the U.S. planemaker’s 737 Max remains grounded by a 19-month-old safety ban, which is expected to be lifted this month.

Airbus issued the update after reaffirming plans internally to reach cash breakeven in the last quarter, boosted by deliveries of the narrow-body A320neo family, while expressing worries over the market for wide-body jets, insiders said.

Deliveries - brought to a near halt in April by the pandemic hitting demand for air travel worldwide - have surged as Airbus rearranged delivery slots for hundreds of aircraft, supported by storage deals with airlines unable to put them into service.

The proportion of deliveries to Chinese airlines remains below pre-crisis levels, however.

Airbus has pushed Chinese carriers to take delivery now that their domestic market has rebounded to pre-COVID levels, but some are using the pandemic as an excuse to delay travelling to Europe to take jets, industry sources said earlier.

Analysts say the shape of 2021 deliveries may depend on the timing of any COVID-19 vaccine, the availability of cash and funding for airlines and the ability of carriers to survive the winter low season after failing to fill reserves in the summer.

Airbus has said it expects demand to return to pre-crisis levels somewhere between 2023 and 2025, but has told its supply chain to be ready to raise A320neo-family production to 47 a month in the second half as demand for those jets quickens.

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