Brand new planes stranded in Mirabel due to pandemic

Brand new planes stranded in Mirabel due to pandemic

Planes are piling up around the Airbus plant in Mirabel, with airlines being unable to pick them up, whether for financial or regulatory reasons.

Last week, no less than ten A220 aircraft, worth at least $ 200 million, were parked near the airport, indicates the specialized website ABCDlist. Four of them had been ready for delivery since March.

Of these ten planes, six are destined for Delta Air Lines. To preserve its liquidity, the American carrier has decided not to take delivery of any device, until further notice.

In addition, three other A220 planes built for Delta are grounded at the Airbus plant in Mobile, Alabama. The big ceremony planned this summer for the first delivery of an A220 produced to Mobile has been postponed indefinitely.

Other airlines want to take possession of their planes, but the pandemic is complicating matters. Travel restrictions prevent their representatives from coming to inspect the devices in Mirabel.

Logistics puzzle

To get around this problem, Airbus has just sent two A220s destined for EgyptAir to its facilities in Toulouse, France. This is where the aircraft delivery flights will be carried out.

“The situation is so out of the ordinary that everything is handled on a case-by-case basis with our clients. […] We are trying to find solutions together, ”said Airbus Canada spokesperson Annabelle Duchesne.

AirBaltic recently took possession of an A220 aircraft which had been ready since May. The Latvian carrier expects to receive two more by the end of the year.

For its part, Air Vanuatu is still awaiting its first A220 aircraft, which was initially due for delivery in July. It made its first flight last month.

For Airbus, it is important that deliveries resume since the aircraft manufacturer is only paid when an aircraft is handed over to the customer.

From May to July, Air Canada was the main source of cash for Airbus Canada, having taken delivery of four A220 aircraft during this period. Their acquisition was financed by a loan from the federal Crown corporation EDC.

Threat from Air Canada

However, the Montreal carrier has threatened to stop taking possession of A220 planes if Ottawa does not come to its aid. Last week, Airbus Canada CEO Philippe Balducchi urged Ottawa to give the airlines a boost.

Despite the aviation crisis, Airbus is gradually returning to its pre-containment production rate, i.e. four aircraft per month.

“This plan is based on the present vision that we have of the market,” explains Ms. Duchesne.

Québec is a 25% shareholder in the A220 by virtue of the $ 1.3 billion investment made in 2016 in Bombardier's former C Series. Airbus controls the program with a 75% stake.

AIRBUS A220 AIRPLANE DELIVERY

  • Aircraft delivered in 2019: 48
  • Aircraft delivered so far in 2020: 16
  • Planes awaiting delivery: 13
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