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Aircraft Oversupply

Former Chief Strategy and Marketing Officer at Airbus & Former CEO at MBDA

IP Interview
Published on May 10, 2020

Why is this interview interesting?

  • Challenges for airlines managing fleets and deferring plane orders with OEM’s
Executive Bio

Marwan Lahoud

Former Chief Strategy and Marketing Officer at Airbus & Former CEO at MBDA

From 2007 to 2017 Marwan served as Chief Strategy and Marketing Officer of Airbus and was a member of the Group Executive Committee. Marwan is credited with having been the chief architect behind the creation of both Airbus and MBDA and also a key individual in the decision to re-engine the A320ceo to launch the A320neo. He led the strategic and international development of Airbus to position it as a global enterprise: during his tenure, the order book of the business grew from €265bn to more than €1,000bn. Previously, Marwan served as CEO of MBDA, the global missile systems company jointly owned by Airbus, BAE Systems and Leonardo. Having begun his career at the French Ministry of Defense in 1989, Marwan was appointed Special Advisor to the Ministry in 1995.

Interview Transcript

Looking at the airframers and either the A320s or the 737s that you produce, per month, I think Airbus increased their targets in February and those targets are 63. What is your estimate that that could decrease to?

They never reached 63. They just said, our target is 63. I believe that they will be back to their levels of production of today, something in the range of 52/53, by 2024.

So we’re going to see a huge oversupply of aircraft?

Today, what they have decided is, they have revised the 63 target to say it’s 40, for the year. An average of 40, a month, between March and December. It doesn’t mean that they are producing 40 today. Possibly, they will produce 100 A320s in December, and you just average it down and you have this 40 level. I think they will be back to 55 in 2024.

Is there an oversupply of planes? The question is, when do you buy new planes? You buy new planes for two reasons. One, you establish new connections. In my view, this is not going to happen soon. The second case is when you have to replace old planes. This is where the 40 number comes from. This is where my 55 in 2023/2024 comes from.

Given your experience in dealing with the airlines, how would an airline be looking at taking orders and these two decisions? Let’s say they won’t be making new connections right now, but what about shifting from older planes to newer planes?

It was a necessity when you were looking to reduce your operating costs and when the oil price was positive. The oil price is positive. We are talking about WTI and you know it’s the future. It’s very easy to say, oil is worth nothing, because the future is negative, but it doesn’t mean that. This is going to continue, even though it’s not going to continue as acutely as before. People will say, I want to make savings on my running costs, but I’m not going to invest hundreds of millions unless I’m sure that I have a return. So it’s going to reduce.

There is another dimension that was never there before. Assume that there are rules of distancing in the planes. Airlines will have to revisit their cabins.

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