PARIS (Reuters) – Airbus reported slightly higher deliveries in the first quarter with 125 aircraft handed over to airlines after a sharp increase in activity in March.
Airbus also posted 39 gross orders, including a new deal for 20 A220s to an unidentified buyer, according to monthly data.
But the company’s net orders – which are adjusted for cancellations – remain in negative territory for the first quarter, with a total of minus 61 net orders dominated by a Norwegian cancellation unveiled in the previous month.
The brisk pace of deliveries confirms a Reuters report on Wednesday that the world’s largest planemaker was poised to match or even eclipse the 122 deliveries seen in the first quarter of last year after a surge in March.
Airbus shares rose more than 2% early on Friday.
Leasing company Avolon ordered 8 single-aisle aircraft but cancelled 8 others and converted some orders to different variants, coming out unchanged in volume terms.
The data issued late on Thursday highlighted a trend of buyers upgrading orders for the 150-seat A320neo to the larger A321neo, which can seat more than 200 passengers – a segment in which Airbus has been strongly outselling U.S. rival Boeing.
A handful of Chinese airlines or lessors, which had previously not been identified, emerged as the buyers of single-aisle aircraft, meaning no new addition to the order tally.
(Reporting by Tim Hepher; Editing by Jane Merriman)