Airbus' Leahy reins in full-year sales forecast

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Airbus has put forward a more pessimistic sales forecast this year, after ending the first four months of 2009 with net orders for fewer than a dozen aircraft.

Chief operating officer for customers John Leahy cautiously estimated, in January, a gross total of 300-400 aircraft for the year.

But Leahy, during a briefing in Hamburg today, would only state: "I don't think it'll be under 100."

He says that, despite the poor performance to the end of April, he believes "the rate [of sales] will go back up".

Airbus also points out that it is currently in the unusual position of having a 100% market share because rival Boeing has recorded a net deficit in its order books for the year to 5 May.

Leahy points out that Airbus has a backlog of over 3,500 aircraft and says that Airbus' primary concern is not the fall in sales but "keeping orders previously booked in production" and ensuring assembly lines continue running at a "reasonably smooth rate" in 2009-10.

Airbus is reducing its A320-family production rate to 34 aircraft per month from October this year. Its A330/340 rate is currently around 8.5 aircraft per month, while the airframer has just cut back its delivery rate of A380s this year to 14 jets.