Airbus believes there are initial signs of air transport recovery from the coronavirus outbreak in China, from where the first contagion wave spread.
Its Tianjin facility had briefly shut production when the outbreak emerged, but has since resumed manufacturing, although Chinese airline operations remain significantly affected.
Speaking during a briefing on 23 March, chief executive Guillaume Faury said the airframer had started to see “some first signs of slow recovery” in domestic air travel.
Chinese customers were not able to take delivery of aircraft at the peak of the crisis, he says, but there are “some indications” that deliveries will resume once operationally possible – perhaps “quite soon”, in the next month or so.
Faury says the Chinese situation has given him confidence that, with a slow resumption of deliveries, Airbus will see a return to “high numbers of deliveries” in China either late in the first half or during the second half of this year.
“It’s still quite early to be precise,” he says, and cautions that the development depends on the level of improvement in China. Faury suggests that, from a nadir of 85% traffic reduction, the figure has come back to 30%.
He states that Chinese risks appear to be linked less to people within the country than to inbound travellers, and he adds that the recovery evidence – while an interesting reference – might not extrapolate to other regions.
“In the rest of the world the trend is opposite,” he says. “We see a very different kinds of situation.”
Although recovery has started in China, he says, Airbus is unable to pinpoint where the “low point” will occur outside of the country. While the company had been estimating deliveries of 860 aircraft this year, it has withdrawn its 2020 guidance and Faury says it is “too early” to estimate the effect on deliveries for the year.