Zodiac rebounding from 787 delay, economic downturn

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A surge in the aircraft retrofit market and Boeing's progress on the 787 twinjet are some of the underlying factors driving the Zodiac group's optimism for improved conditions in the aircraft interiors space.

"The 787 is flying. It's about time. We had to slow down production last year [due to the delay]. We were impacted by three separate events - the Boeing strike [in 2008], the downturn in the industry and the 787 delay. They were the three events that made 2009 a difficult year," says Zodiac Seats CEO Adri Ruiter.

He notes that signs of a turnaround in the civil aeronautical segment are evident, however. Airbus and Boeing have announced increases in production volumes and airlines are "starting to reconfigure airplanes again, which gives us a healthy retrofit market".

Zodiac Aerospace is parent to aircraft interiors specialists C&D Zodiac, Sicma and Weber Aircraft.

As a whole, Zodiac's sales in the first half of the 2009/2010 fiscal year totalled €965.8 million ($1.26 billion), down 12.8% based on published figures and 7.7% on a like-for-like basis at a constant euro/dollar exchange rate. Operating income was down 33.6% to €76.5 million.

Going forward, the 787 is expected to be a major source of business for Zodiac, with a delivered equipment value per aircraft - excluding seats - of $2.5 million. "The certification programme for this new aircraft is advancing and Boeing remains confident that it will enter service before the end of 2010," says Zodiac in a statement.

Given the economic environment, Zodiac maintains its target of achieving operating profitability of 8% for the 2009/2010 fiscal year.