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Air Lease disappointed with A320neo and A350 delays

Air Lease chief executive John Plueger has identified stressed supply chains as the driver of "disappointing" delays to the lessor's Airbus A320neo-family and A350-900 aircraft.

Delivery delays are most pronounced with Pratt & Whitney PW1100G-powered A320neo and A321neo jets but are "creeping" up for those equipped with CFM International Leap-1A engines as well as A350-900s, Plueger said during the Los Angeles-based lessor's quarterly earnings call on 4 May. The A350 delays are "unrelated" to engines, he adds.

"As of now, not one single aircraft from Airbus is delivering on time to ALC in 2017," says Plueger.

He adds that the lessor expects the A320neo, A321neo and A350-900 delays to continue into 2018. It also foresees delays to the in-development A330-900neo.

Airbus says it is in continuous contact with customers but declined to speak further on Plueger's comments.

Air Lease sees supply-chain issues as the cause of delivery delays.

"We remain concerned about the supply-chain constraints at a critical time when both Airbus and Boeing are ramping up production to record high levels," says Plueger. "These delays clearly indicate that constraints in the supply chain exist, especially on the engine side."

Air Lease in November 2016 warned of delays to its 2017 deliveries of PW1100G-powered A320neo-family jets. Numerous airlines have faced similar delays as well as operational issues.

Citing frustration with the PW1100G problems, Spirit Airlines last month converted two of its four 2018 A320neo deliveries to A320ceos and postponed the remaining two to 2019.

P&W is working to address some of the durability issues that the PW1100Gs have faced. In April, it received EU approval for an improvement package to the carbon air seal in the engine's No 3 bearing, and it plans to roll out an improved combustor liner for the powerplant in the fourth quarter.

The manufacturer aims to deliver 350-400 PW1100G engines in 2017. However, a shortage of fan blades has slowed deliveries.

Concerns about delays to Leap-1A-powered A320neos are relatively new. Less than two weeks ago, Safran chief executive Philippe Petitcolin said that the supplier was "on track" with the ramp-up in engine deliveries to Airbus.

Safran aims to deliver 450-500 Leap engines, including Leap-1Bs for the Boeing 737 Max, this year. However, it must deliver 1,200 in 2018 to meet its commitments.

Petitcolin said in late April that CFM's supply chain was "perfectly in line" to meet commitments.

The impact of the A320neo-family and A350 delays are minimal for Air Lease, says Plueger. The lessor has shifted four A320neo deliveries to 2018 from 2017, along with the associated capital expenditures for the aircraft.

Through the end of the year, Air Lease is scheduled to take five A320neos, all with PW1100G engines, and nine A321neos, three with Leap-1A engines and four with PW1100Gs, Flight Fleets Analyzer shows. The lessor has two more A350-900 deliveries programmed for 2017.

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