LEIDEN, Netherlands: Airbus reported a surprise surge in deliveries in March and a slight increase in deliveries in the first quarter to 125 aircraft, amid a rebound in air travel in China and the United States.
While Airbus reported 39 orders, including a recent deal for 20 A220s with an unidentified buyer, its net orders, adjusted for cancellations, remained in the negative zone at minus 61, due to a mass cancellation by Norwegian Air the previous month, Reuters reported.
Airbus shares rose more than 2 percent on news of the deliveries.
According to analysts, the jump in March deliveries puts Airbus on track to meet its full-year target of supplying 566 aircraft, the same as in 2020.
Suppliers have said Airbus has set a target of delivering more than 600 aircraft this year.
However, Airbus has again produced more aircraft than it has delivered in the first quarter, with over 100 jets remaining at its factories as beleaguered airlines try to economize spending.
Stifel analyst Harry Breach has estimated a $1-billion build-up in the Airbus inventory.
Recent data has also highlighted a new trend, wherein buyers are upgrading orders from the 150-seat A320neo to the larger 200-seater A321neo.
Leasing company Avolon has ordered eight single-aisle aircraft from Airbus, but cancelled eight others and revised some orders in favor of different variants, thereby leaving orders unchanged, in terms of volume.
Some Chinese airlines or lessors, which had not been identified earlier, have also emerged as buyers of single-aisle aircraft, again leaving the order tally unchanged.
According to analysts, offering guidance for the remainder of the year, attention would shift to production plans amid lingering concerns of a third COVID wave in Europe and a slump in long-distance travel, even as travel revives in the US and China.
Agency Partners analyst Sash Tusa has predicted that the production increases in single-aisle aircraft planned by Airbus - from 40 per month to 43 in the third quarter and 45 in the fourth - could be delayed by three months or more.