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每日跟讀#591: Jet Makers May Feel Ripples From Falling Oil Prices

油價下跌 飛機製造商頻皺眉

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每日跟讀#591: Jet Makers May Feel Ripples From Falling Oil Prices

Sharply falling oil prices are a boon to airlines, saving billions of dollars in monthly fuel bills for a highly competitive industry that last year eked out an average profit of just $6 a passenger.

狂跌的油價對競爭激烈的航空業者很補,去年每名乘客的利潤才六美元,如今每個月可省下數十億美元的燃料費。

But what is good news for the airlines raises questions for the world’s largest jet makers, Boeing and Airbus, which have been riding a wave of demand for the latest fuel-efficient jets, driven in large part by the high price of oil.

但是航空業者的佳音對全球最大的飛機製造商波音和空中巴士來說,未必是好消息。主要拜高油價所賜,兩巨頭收到一堆新式低油耗客機訂單。

The concern is that the drop in oil prices could prompt airlines to delay orders, after nearly a decade in which the aircraft makers have benefited from a boom in orders.

歷經接近十年的榮景後,飛機製造商擔心的油價下跌可能促使航空公司延後訂單。

“What has propelled the market to record growth are two factors: cheap cash and expensive fuel,” said Richard Aboulafia, an aerospace analyst . “Now something has changed.” If the fall in the price of oil continues, airlines would be motivated to keep their older, fuel-guzzling jets flying for a few more years and delay new orders in hopes of saving money.

「推動市場成長創紀錄有兩大因素:低利率和高油價,」航空業分析師李察.阿布拉非亞說:「現在狀況已有所改變。」如果油價續跌,將鼓勵航空公司延後下訂單,讓機齡較久、高油耗的客機多飛幾年以省錢。

The total backlog of unfilled orders for Boeing and Airbus stands at more than 12,000 aircraft, valued at close to $2 trillion and enough to keep their assembly lines humming for more than eight years.

波音和空巴未交貨的飛機訂單總數超過一萬二千架,總價將近二兆美元,足夠讓生產線忙個八年以上。

And orders kept coming in last year. Airbus said recently that it secured purchase contracts for a net 1,456 jets last year, down slightly from 1,503 planes in 2013, and that it delivered 629 in 2014. And Boeing recently reported 1,432 net orders in 2014, up from 1,355 a year earlier, and 723 plane deliveries for the year — an industry record.

去年訂單仍源源不斷。空巴日前表示,去年確認的飛機訂單有1,456架,略遜於2013年的1,503架,去年交機629架。波音日前宣稱去年收到1,432架的訂單,優於前一年的1,355架,去年交機723架創下業界紀錄。

Boeing and Airbus each control roughly half the market for airliners with more than 100 seats.

100座以上飛機的市場,波音和空中巴士大致各占有一半。

Gains in fuel efficiency have topped the manufacturers’ lists of selling points for their newest generation of commercial jets. They include recently upgraded versions of short-range workhorses like the Boeing 737 and the Airbus A320, as well as lightweight, wide-bodied models made from carbon fiber like the Boeing 787 Dreamliner or the Airbus A350 .

低油耗成為飛機製造商推銷新一代商用飛機的最大賣點,包括新近升級版的短程主力機型波音737與空中巴士A320,以及用碳纖打造、重量輕的廣體飛機,如波音787夢幻客機和空巴A350。

Weaker growth, in addition to the influx of new planes and a flood of new low-cost players in the air travel market, has already translated into a glut of available airline seats in parts of Asia, driving down ticket prices there.

成長趨緩,加上新機和廉價航空業者湧入搭機旅行的市場,已讓部分亞洲地區機位供過於求,壓低了票價。

“You are beginning to see the effects of overcapacity on airline profitability,” said Nick Cunningham of Agency Partners, a brokerage firm in London. “You can’t keep on adding capacity without bankrupting the industry,” Mr. Cunningham said.

倫敦仲介商「經銷夥伴」的尼克.康寧漢說:「各位將開始看見運量過剩對航空公司獲利的影響。容量一直增加,產業不可能不崩盤。」

Falling oil prices may exacerbate the overcapacity problem by tempting airlines to lower fares in an effort to increase market share, said Adam M. Pilarski of Avitas, an aviation consulting firm in Virginia. That not only reduces the cash that airlines have available to pay for new planes they have ordered, he said, but also increases the odds that financially shaky carriers will delay or cancel orders — or not survive long enough to take delivery of their jets.

美國維吉尼亞州飛航顧問公司Avitas的亞當.皮拉斯基表示,油價下跌恐怕會促使業者削價搶市占率,使容量過剩問題惡化。如此一來,不僅航空公司支付訂購新機貨款的現金會減少,也會讓財務狀況危殆的航空業者延後或取消訂單的風險變高,甚至在交機前就倒閉。

“Manufacturers know that when they sell a plane today for delivery in nine years, by then the environment might change,” Mr. Pilarski said. “The airline may change its mind, or it might not even be in business anymore.”

「製造商知道今天接的飛機訂單九年後才交貨,屆時情勢可能已變,」皮拉斯基說:「航空業者可能改變心意,甚或已經不存在了。

Airbus filed a lawsuit in December against Skymark, a struggling Japanese budget carrier that canceled a $2 billion order for six A380 superjumbo passenger jets in July. Airbus’s claim, filed in a British court, seeks unspecified damages .

營運狀況不佳的日本廉航業者天馬航空去年7月取消6架A380超級巨無霸、總價20億美元的訂單後,空巴12月在英國對天馬提告,求償金額不詳。

Any prolonged slowdown in the overall replacement rate could put the brakes on Boeing and Airbus delivery rates, analysts said. A study published last year by Ascend, an aviation consultancy , found that about 50 percent of all new jet deliveries over the past five years had been for replacement purposes rather than growth .

分析師說,班機整體汰換率減緩現象若延長,恐怕都會使波音和空巴交貨腳步變慢。航空顧問公司「上升」去年發表的研究結果發現,過去五年交付的新機約五成用於汰換,而非新增。

Plane makers, though, are showing few signs of concern.

然而,飛機製造商似無憂慮的跡象。

Darren Hulst of Boeing said airlines will still need new aircraft “to continue to grow and take advantage of the tailwinds in the operating cost environment.”

波音的達倫.胡斯特(譯註:市場分析總監)說,航空公司仍然需要新飛機「以便持續成長並在營運成本的環境中搭順風車。」

Fabrice Bregier of Airbus said that with oil prices impossible to predict, airlines would be wise to keep buying aircraft with lower fuel consumption. But he also emphasized that Airbus could weather any decline in orders.

空中巴士的法布.布里吉(譯註:執行長)表示,油價走向難以逆料,航空公司最好持續購買低油耗飛機。但他也強調空巴可以應付訂單減少。

“We have almost 6,400 aircraft in the backlog,” Mr. Bregier said . “So we could, in principle, even sustain no orders for three to four years.”

「我們等待交貨的飛機將近6,400架,」布里吉說:「所以,原則上即使沒訂單都能撐個三、四年。」

Source article: https://paper.udn.com/udnpaper/POH0067/273447/web/

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