* Embraer “struggling” to keep order backlog stable in 2012
* Bizjet orders to take “a few years” to reach 2008 levels
By Tom Miles
GENEVA, Sept 25 (Reuters) - Brazilian planemaker Embraer is still seeing some cancellations of business jet orders and expects sales in the sector will take a few more years to return to 2007-2008 levels, Chief Executive Frederico Curado told Reuters on Tuesday.
The ongoing erosion of the company’s firm private jet orders comes nearly a year after Curado said in November 2011 that he saw a cycle of business jet cancellations coming to an end.
Weak business jet demand and a drought of major regional jet orders dragged Embraer’s order backlog, its pipeline of future revenue, to a six-year low in June. As a result, analysts said the planemaker may need to scale back production next year, hurting profits.
“We’re still targeting to keep the backlog stable by the year-end, but of course there’s a softening in the market and we have to recognize that. It’s not an easy activity,” Curado said on the sidelines of a conference at the World Trade Organization in Geneva.
“On the business jets, we’ve been selling relatively well but we’re still seeing some cancellations,” he said.
Embraer delivered 99 executive jets last year, missing its original estimates by about 20 planes as fears of a European debt crisis weighed on the global economy and sparked cancellations.
The company has said it expects to deliver 90 to 105 private jets in 2012, a level that the head of Embraer’s executive jet division called “the new norm for us as business jet manufacturers” in an interview last month.
Embraer’s conservative tone contrasts with growing confidence from private jet rivals like Cessna, owned by Textron Inc, which has reported rebounding demand and estimated 11 percent revenue growth for the industry in 2012.