Arianespace makes first ever annual loss
Arianespace’s CEO Jean-Marie Luton disclosed a loss in 2000 – the first time the company has made a loss in its 20-year history – of around E200 million (the exact accounts will be filed in June) at its New Year press briefing. This figure was considerably more than had been expected, which was E150 million, on a turnover of E1.1 billion, representing an increase of 10 per cent.
The shortfall is partly attributed to the delay in Ariane 5 launches until the vehicle was proven, and in investment gearing up for Ariane 5 operation. Other factors include the low value of the Euro and investment in the launch centre.
Luton hopes Arianespace will break even this year, but said he would like support of European governments in financing the Kourou launch site. He also pointed out that the US government provides a considerable degree of support to its home space industry. “Europe spends E600 million a year on launchers, the USA $3 billion,” he said, adding that Arianespace endures half the cost of launches, while US launchers (he did not actually name Boeing) only 10 per cent since the American government pays for the Kennedy Space Centre.
However, Luton sees the future as bright, particularly now that Ariane 5 is mature. “Ariane 5 will offer capacity of 10 tonnes to geostationary transfer orbit in 2002, which will increase to 12 tonnes in late 2005.” It will also be possible to re-ignite the upper stage during flight enabling a launch into specific orbits.
Luton announced a new batch of commercial contracts signed during 2000 bringing the total in the order book to 49, valued at E4.45 billion. “During 2000, we signed launch contracts for 25 payloads [15 communications satellites, one Earth observation craft and nine ATV service missions to the International Space Station],” said Luton. The 15 telecom satellite contracts represent a market share of over 50 per cent.
Eleven missions are planned for this year: six Ariane 4 and five Ariane 5, to carry a total of 16 satellites. Luton expects the commercial satellite market to be stable at about 25 to 30 a year; while Arianespace aims to secure slightly more than half of this market.