Narrowbody Outlook 2013

After Boeing and Airbus unveiled their final order and delivery numbers for 2012 it is now time to turn to what is ahead. What will 2013 bring us in the narrowbody segment?
Let’s begin with deliveries – this is quite easy:
·         Airbus stabilizes their output rate at 42/month and will deliver 480-485 A320 family aircraft (ca. 11.5*42 as we have to take the summer break into account)

·         Boeing will increase the delivery rate towards  38 B737NG’s per month and therefore deliver between 450-460 narrowbodies.

·         Bombardier will deliver the first CS100 in 2014, so A & B are (probably for the last time) alone.

But what is more interesting is: how many orders will they see – both A & B, but, of course, also Bombardier.

The forecast from Airbus is for 700 gross orders. For 2012 the original forecast was for 600, the upped to 650 orders and at the end there were 914. The question is: was John Leahy too pessimistic or did he give a low target to the public in order to be an “overachiever”?

I don’t know what Boeing’s ales target is – maybe we hear something on Wednesdays Q4 Earnings Call. But let’s look at what we know (or thing to know) what is coming in 2013 in terms of narrowbody orders:

·         There is still the “elephant in the room”: Lion Air with the rumored order of 100, 200 or even more A320’s.

·         There is Turkish Airlines, shopping for more than 100 narrowbodies. I could imagine a split order between Airbus and Boeing here, as one manufacturer alone might not be able to satisfy the THY’s appetite  in time. But if THY wants to have closer ties with Lufthansa in the future, they could be drawn to the Airbus side, as Lufthansa wants to streamline purchasing through harmonizing the fleet through it’s own airlines and ideally inside the Star Alliance.

·         American Airlines can now form up their order for 130 A320ceo, 130 A320neo and 100 B737MAX. (the order for 100 B737NG was firmed in 2011 already). We so not know if the A320ceo will end up as a new order in the books as in 2011 Airbus and AA said that these aircraft could come from lessors with existing orders.

·         TUI is looking for a renewal of their fleet and could place an order for 60 aircraft soon. Boeing is the clear front runner here.

·         Vueling is in the process to order narrowbodies  - any number between 30 and 60 would be a good guess. The size of the order probably depends on Vueling’s role in the IAG. Airbus as the existing fleet provider is in the lead here, but Vueling is also looking at Boeing and Bombardier.

·         easyjet is looking for around 100 narrowbodies.  Airbus is the natural candidate, although it was Airbus with an irresistible offer displacing Boeing in 2002, so why shouldn’t Boeing try to do the same now? And easyjet is also talking to Bombardier about the CSeries. although the CS300 seems to small for today’ needs at easyjet, as they are moving from the A319 to the A320. But the order could also be postponed as easyjet has some options which they could firm up with Airbus, providing more time to decide and to bargain (and to delight shareholders). If the announced step-down of CEO Rake has something to do with the planned order lies in the dark. The last message is though that management is looking for shareholder approval for the order in June.

·         India: IndiGo and GoJet both ordered large numbers of the A320neo. SpiceJet and Jet Airways are the other two large low cost airlines competing in the market (Air India seems to be focused on their problems with the B787 (both technically and financially). I would not be surprised to see orders for the B737MAX from SpiceJet and Jet Airways, as both are B737NG operators.

·         FlyDubai: the airline expressed interesting the B737MAX short after it’s announcement in July 2011. More than half of it’s original order for 50 B737-800NG are delivered now – in less than four years. So if they want to grow further after the delivery of the last NG they might have to act now.

·         Lufthansa: LH is one of the initial customers for the A320neo – but they ordered “just” 30 of them. If one looks at the current A320 fleet, which is one of the oldest, the conclusion is that they need more. Not just for the Lufthansa fleet itself, but also for Swiss (their narrowbody fleet is somewhat younger though), Austrian and  Brussels. The Bombardier CSeries, especially the CS300, could have a future here, too. Let’s wait for the first flight of the CS100 (in June?) and we might see some more orders for the CSeries anyway…

·         Air France: same as Lufthansa, except that they did not order any of the new narrowbodies so far, due to financial restrictions.  The oldest A320 from the -100 series already left the fleet, but there are still some 1989 vintage models left…

·         China: the Chinese airlines are somewhat behind in ordering new narrowbodies – this has something to do with the budgetary planning in China. But I guess that there are at least some LoI, MoU or something like that which we will see firmed up this year. Also for the CSeries???

Oh, and then there is Ryanair, of course. Will they order 200 B737NG’s towards the end of this year or not? No guess and no comment from my side – a guess here would be as meaningful as predicting a CSeries order from Qatar…

All in all I think we will see again more orders than the official target from Airbus. Remember the target is the overall number, not the one for just narrowbodies. And there are still a number of A330, A350 and maybe A380 deals in the pipeline. Likewise for the B787, B777 and B747-8I (F), of course.
So far, so good: it's all speculation for now  – let’s wait for the real deals!

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