Final annual figures for 2020 realeased by aerospace industry group ADS show commercial aircraft orders and deliveries fall to their lowest levels for more than a decade due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Global deliveries fell 42 per cent from 2019 to 723 aircraft, while 567 new aircraft orders were placed in 2020, with 52 per cent of them placed last January before the global impact of the crisis was felt.

Overall aircraft order and delivery figures for 2020 showed the extent of disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic to a global aerospace sector that had already faced a comparatively challenging 2019. When compared to the record years of 2018 and 2017 for deliveries and orders, the sector was well below previous output levels.

Urgent government support required to ensure sector’s survival

ADS said the sector faced a long road to recovery in the years ahead and called for urgent additional support for the aerospace and aviation sectors to ensure the industry’s survival.

Global deliveries in 2020 totalled 723 aircraft, 42 per cent behind 2019 and 55.3 per cent behind 2018, and marked the second consecutive year that deliveries have declined. Widebodies had a particularly tough year with a 54 per cent decline in deliveries compared to the previous year. Single-aisle aircraft deliveries saw a decline of 35 per cent as the pandemic added to ongoing challenges from 2019.

Aircraft orders told a similar story with 567 new orders in total, a 59 per cent decline on 2019. Of the new orders placed, 52 per cent of them were made in January 2020 before the full impact of the pandemic started to hit the industry. Widebody aircraft saw an 81 per cent decline in orders on 2019 due to the uncertainty created by the pandemic and demand for long-haul travel.

Order backlog worth £190 billion to UK economy

Due to struggling orders and deliveries, combined with cancellations, the backlog of orders for aircraft fell by 6.6 per cent to 13,038 aircraft but still represents several years of work for the industry and almost £190 billion to the UK if all orders are ultimately fulfilled.

ADS Chief Executive Paul Everitt said: “The UK aerospace industry continues to face the most challenging of circumstances. Demand has been dramatically reduced by international travel restrictions, quarantine regimes and an uncoordinated approach to testing.

“If the sector is to survive and thrive, we need Government to work with industry to put in place a recovery plan that helps us to ‘build back better.’ This should fund more investment in technology to deliver net zero aviation and action to support UK supply chains.”

“Voices across the aviation and aerospace sectors are calling on Government to work with us to plot a course out of the pandemic and towards the future growth opportunities that can drive jobs and prosperity across all the nations and regions of the UK.”

Subscribe to the FINN weekly newsletter