Airbus deliveries climb in H1, sources say, leaving production challenge

FILE PHOTO - An Airbus A350-1000 performs during the 53rd International Paris Air Show at Le Bourget Airport near Paris, France June 18, 2019. REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol

PARIS (Reuters) - Airbus AIR.PA deliveries rose about 28% in the first half to just under 390 aircraft, putting the planemaker on course to beat crisis-hit Boeing BA.N in 2019 but handing it a record production task in the second half, industry sources said.

The working tally of as many as 389 deliveries - including 227 in the second quarter - leaves the European planemaker with around 500 planes to hand over in the second half of the year in order to meet an annual delivery goal of 880-890 airplanes.

This year’s mid-way Airbus delivery numbers are boosted partly by the Canadian A220, recently acquired from Bombardier.

Airbus declined comment. It is expected to issue first-half orders and deliveries on Monday. Operational numbers can vary before publication subject to confirmation by auditors.

First-half deliveries in 2018 had dipped 1% to 303 aircraft due mainly to delays in receiving A320neo engines.

While engine delays have eased, getting the cash-generating single-aisle program on track after separate industrial snags at a plant in Hamburg is one of the company’s top priorities.

Airbus will nonetheless reclaim its position as the world’s no.1 commercial aircraft producer for the first time since 2011 as deliveries of the Boeing 737 MAX remain frozen in the wake of two fatal accidents. Boeing delivered 202 planes up to May 31.

Airbus has reshuffled some key industrial management posts with the head of its A400M military airlifter, former space systems executive Michael Menking, brought in to run the dominant A320 program, according to a LinkedIn posting.

Previous A320 program head Klaus Roewe has been named head of customer services.

Reporting by Tim Hepher; editing by Richard Lough