Bumper August for aircraft orders but 'long road to recovery' forecast

Last month was a bumper period for aircraft orders but production rates remain slow, new figures today reveal.

The industry has seen continued suppressed demand for aircraft due to the pandemic and international travel restrictions. Picture: John Devlin

August saw 130 single-aisle and 25 wide-body orders, making it the best August since 2016, and a steep rise compared to the same month in 2020.

Manufacturers delivered 62 aircraft, an increase of 19 per cent on August 2020. Year-to-date deliveries are now at 590 aircraft, a rise of 59 per cent compared to the same point a year ago, as the aerospace sector continues to feel the ongoing effects of the pandemic, highlighted by subdued month-to-month delivery and production rates.

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Throughout the month of August, flight data has remained broadly stable with UK flight numbers around 50 per cent below 2019 levels and European flights some 30 per cent below 2019 peaks.

Industry leaders said those figures pointed to a less volatile operating environment and a slow recovery from the worst of the Covid crisis, helped by the easing of international travel restrictions.

The backlog of aircraft orders is said to be substantial at 12,860 planes, and despite a 5 per cent decrease from August 2020, the total order book will be worth some £181 billion to the UK aircraft manufacturing industry, representing several years’ worth of work.

Kevin Craven, chief executive of ADS, the UK trade organisation representing the aerospace, defence, security and space sectors, said: “The UK aerospace and aviation sectors continue to feel the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic and despite a welcome boost to the 2021 order book, the road to a sustained long-term recovery will be a long one.”

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