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Airbus Advises of Production Increases Ahead

May 31, 2021
The jet builder wants its suppliers to prepare for rising production rates by 2025, as the commercial aircraft sector returns to pre-Covid levels.

Airbus has advised its suppliers of upcoming production-rate increases, especially for the narrow-body A320 series, with smaller increases forecast for the A220 and wide-body A350 series. The OEM stated it expects the commercial aircraft sector to return to “pre-Covid levels” sometime between 2023 and 2025.

“The message to our supplier community provides visibility to the entire industrial ecosystem to secure the necessary capabilities and be ready when market conditions call for it,” according to a statement by Airbus CEO Guillaume Faury. “In parallel, we are transforming our industrial system by optimizing our aerostructures set-up and modernizing our A320 family production facilities. All these actions are set in motion to prepare our future.”

Commercial aircraft demand had been robust for several years prior to the onset of the coronavirus pandemic in March 2020. What followed was a sudden cancellation of flights, which prompted airlines to reassess their activities and future aircraft requirements. Hundreds of previously booked orders for new aircraft were cancelled in the subsequent months.

Airbus proceeded to implement a downsizing program – which however had been in development prior to the pandemic, in order to reduce employment and operating costs and reassign capacity as demand indicated. The most notable example of this is Airbus’ decision to discontinue production of its wide-body A380 aircraft and reallocate that capacity to the A320 program.

Now Airbus indicates it will increase production of A320 series jets to 45 aircraft per month in Q4 2021 advises suppliers to prepare for a future increase to 64 aircraft per month by Q2 2023. Beyond that, it directed suppliers to prepare for a rate of 70 aircraft per month by Q1 2024 – and possibly to 75 aircraft per month by 2025.

The smaller A220 series aircraft is currently assembled at Mirabel, Quebec, and Mobile, Ala., at a rate of five aircraft per month, which is planned to increase to six aircraft per month in early 2022. Airbus told A220 suppliers it foresees a rate of 14 aircraft per month by 2025.

The wide-body A350 series is produced at a rate of five aircraft per month currently, and that is foreseen rising to six aircraft per month by Q3 2022.

No change is planned in the A330 wide-body aircraft production rate.

In a published interview the CEO said Faury said detailing its production-rate plans would give assurance to suppliers, many of which are not yet recovered from the abrupt change in production during 2020. "The aim is to give the supply chain a clear understanding...and make sure that they have no doubt that what we are asking them to prepare is consistent with what we are asking other suppliers to prepare," Faury commented to Reuters. "I think we should not overestimate our level of confidence, but we should also not underestimate the fact that after the crisis it is no longer a crisis."

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