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Airbus: “Most challenging crisis”

February 19, 2021

By Chris Forrester

While much of the Airbus Group results released this week are focused on its aircraft business, Airbus CEO Guillaume Faury told analysts that the past year represented the most challenging crisis to hit the aerospace industry.

However, the satellite and rocket business figured in its end-of-year numbers (to December 31st 2020). The pressures from across the Airbus portfolio (and managing to deliver 566 commercial aircraft during the year), their consolidated revenues decreased to €49.9 billion (2019 €70.5 billion).

Overall revenues at Airbus Defence and Space decreased by around 4 per cent, mainly reflecting lower volume as well as the impact of Covid-19 on business phasing, mainly in Space Systems. The consolidated net loss was (minus) – €1.133 million (2019 -€1,362 million). The loss included the impairment of its loan stake in mega-constellation OneWeb.

As to the specific Space Systems division, the revenue fall was 12 per cent, although its order book grew with new orders for commercial and scientific satellites. Six geostationary satellites were placed onto the order book in 2020: two were for Intelsat, and one each for Arabsat, Australia’s Optus, UAE’s Thuraya and the UK’s Defence Ministry.

The OneWeb loan by Airbus Group, now written down, amounted to €137 million (which at the time represented an 8.5 per cent equity stake in OneWeb). OneWeb has now emerged from its Chapter 11 bankruptcy reconstruction. However, Airbus holds onto its joint venture with OneWeb at the satellite manufacturing division in Florida.

Airbus owns 50 per cent of ArianeGroup, which is majority owner of the Arianespace launch-service provider.

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