LONDON – Airbus SE (AIR.FR) on Monday said its helicopter deliveries and new order intake fell last year in the face of continued softness in the segment, spurring a new efficiency drive at the European aerospace giant's rotorcraft unit.
Airbus, the main rival to Boeing Co. (BA) in the commercial jetliner market, said it produced 409 helicopters in 2017, after delivering 418 the year prior.
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Net order intake reached 335 helicopters, down from 353 in 2016. The effect of the downturn in orders was damped by an increase in bookings for larger, more lucrative models. The company said it secured 54 orders for its big Super Puma model principally from government buyers and that it had won 19 deals for its medium-sized H175 system.
Airbus has been leaning increasingly on deals with government buyers for its largest helicopter types amid a prolonged slump in demand from the oil-and-gas sector. Such users have cut back in response to the slump in oil prices that began in 2014.
The chopper-making Airbus Helicopters unit has been trying to streamline its operations to reduce the impact the demand weakness has had on earnings.
Airbus Helicopters Chief Executive Guillaume Faury said the unit is embarking on a new program to improve operations after closing an earlier efficiency program launched in 2014. The previous effort allowed the company "to become stronger and leaner," he said.
Mr. Faury is leaving his current role to take over Airbus's commercial airplane business, which generates the bulk of the company's sales and profit. The helicopter business represents about 10% of total the aerospace company's sales.
Airbus said it also secured deals for 168 smaller helicopter types and ended last year with a backlog of 692 rotorcraft orders after accounting for 15 contract cancelations. Fewer customers abandoned contracts in 2017, signaling the turmoil that has hit helicopter buyers in recent years is easing.
The Kuwaiti government, an important customer for Airbus helicopters in recent years, last month said it is investigating allegations of corruptions involving some purchases. Airbus hasn't directly addressed the allegation, though said it was cooperating broadly with various investigations into potential wrongdoing.
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(END) Dow Jones Newswires
January 22, 2018 02:47 ET (07:47 GMT)
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