The aerospace giant Airbus announced a 1.1 billion euro loss for 2020 on Thursday and warned that the industry might not recover from the disruption caused by the pandemic for two to four years, as new virus variants delay a resumption of worldwide air travel.
The world’s largest planemaker eliminated its dividend for a second straight year and predicted a leveling off in deliveries of its popular commercial jets, the company’s chief executive, Guillaume Faury, said.
“As of today we only expect the market to recover between 2023 and 2025,” Mr. Faury said. “The pace of recovery will depend not only on the pandemic and the rate of vaccinations, but also on the decision of governments, if they choose to tighten pandemic conditions or, as I hope, restore freedom,” he said.
The aircraft manufacturer, based in Toulouse, France, said revenue fell by 29 percent to 49.9 billion euros (about $60 billion). Still, the company is outperforming its rival Boeing, which suffered a $11.9 billion loss in 2020, weighed down by the setbacks from the 737 Max, which was grounded after 346 people were killed in two crashes involving the plane, and delays of the first deliveries of the 777X.
Airbus delivered 566 aircraft to airlines in 2020, 40 percent less than expected before the pandemic. In a sign of how badly air travel has been hit, some airlines avoided answering Airbus’s calls to alert them that the new aircraft they had ordered before the pandemic hit was ready, Mr. Faury said.
Given the uncertain outlook, Airbus won’t ramp up aircraft deliveries this year, but will instead plan to deliver about the same number of aircraft as it did in 2020. The fall in demand has left around 100 finished jets sitting parked at Airbus factories, down from a peak of around 145 last year.
Investors were not pleased with the update. Shares in Airbus fell over 3 percent in early trading.
Despite the gloomy short-term forecast, Mr. Faury said the company would continue to ramp up for a substantial change in future business, based on a new generation of carbon neutral airlines that it is designing and expects to unveil sometime this decade.
Weighing on the company’s finances were a 1.2 billion euro charge linked to more than 11,000 layoffs carried out last year, as well as another 385 million euros in costs associated with the ending of its A380 super jumbo jet.