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Airbus Considering Production-Rate Boost in 2021

Oct. 25, 2020
In June Airbus cut output by 40% overall, but the manufacturer reportedly is communicating to suppliers that it will increase production of its A320 series to 47/month in the second half of next year.

Airbus SE reportedly plans to increase the production rate of its top-selling A320neo aircraft in the second half of 2021, from 40 to 47 aircraft/month. The plan, which is said not to be finalized, is reported to be included in recent communications from the OEM to its suppliers, and reported by Bloomberg News, to prepare them to be ready to support the rate increase.

“We plan to maintain the rate 40 up till summer next year and we have asked the supply chain to protect up to rate 47 to be prepared for when the market recovers,” Airbus purportedly confirmed in a statement to news service.

The COVID-19 pandemic has altered the commercial aerospace sector, as consumer and business travel are curtailed and personal travel is significantly reduced. Airlines have less need for new and replacement aircraft, a reversal that affects the manufacturing supply chain.

In June Airbus put in place an aggressive downsizing plan to reduce operating costs amid flattening demand, and to match its output to a new market outlook that sees decreased demand for new aircraft. Initially, it targeted 15,000 jobs for elimination, though in September Airbus CEO Guillaume Faury notified the manufacturer's 130,000 employees that it may implement compulsory layoffs as it continues to reduce operating expenses.

The A320 series output was cut by one-third in June, to the current rate of 40/month. An increase to 47/month would be far from the earlier rate of production, but would signal some improvement to supply chain that there is some momentum in the sector's recovery.

Airbus has already begun scaling back its commercial aircraft production rates. It plans to reduce the output of the best-selling A320 series by one-third, to 40 aircraft a month. The wide-body A350 jets would be reduced by about 40% to six aircraft per month; and the A330 series would be reduced more than 40% to two aircraft per month, based on the most recently published Airbus production figures.

“We have done a re-evaluation of the situation after the summer period,” Airbus told Bloomberg. “We have refined the plan for the A320 family programs based on our current view of the market.”

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