By Tim Hepher and Benoit Van Overstraeten
Airbus deliveries rose 50% in June compared with May and reached their highest level since the coronavirus crisis spread to Europe in March, but the accelerating recovery failed to prevent first-half deliveries from sliding to a 16-year low.
Figures released by the European planemaker late on Wednesday underscored a collapse in aerospace industry fortunes since early this year, hours after Airbus workers facing job cuts staged their first strike in 12 years.
Deliveries rose to 36 aircraft in June from 24 in May and a low of 14 in April. For the first half, deliveries fell by 49% to 196 planes compared with 389 in the same period last year.
Airbus has said it faces an average 40% drop in business over the next two years, forcing it to cut 15,000 jobs, or 11%, of its workforce. Unions oppose compulsory cuts.
Facing a slump in demand, planemakers have been urging airlines to take planes that have already been built in return for agreement to defer others due at later dates.
Some aircraft, however, are going straight into storage because travel demand is recovering slowly, experts say.
June's figures suggested negotiations were partially paying off as Airbus handed over three wide-body A350-900 aircraft for European airlines despite a glut of large jets.
But deliveries of many other wide-body aircraft at Airbus and U.S. rival Boeing remain hampered by weak demand for long-haul travel as a result of the crisis.
Sources said last month that Airbus had sent out dozens of default notices to airlines in a bid to keep deliveries moving.
With airlines focusing on survival, Airbus posted no orders for a second month.
Gross orders so far this year remained at 365 jets, but net orders adjusted for cancellations slipped by one unit to 298, after lessor Avolon cancelled one of 10 A330neos it has ordered.
(Reporting by Tim Hepher and Benoit Van Overstraeten; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Leslie Adler)