Picture used for illustrative purpose.
Airbus is asking key suppliers to get ready for a further 18% increase in A320-family jet output by the end of 2022, on top of existing targets for this year, as airlines eye a partial return to normal travel, industry sources said.
The tentative new planning goal would lift output of the workhorse domestic and medium-haul jet, which competes with Boeing’s 737 MAX, to 53 a month, they told Reuters.
The number being floated for the end of next year remains informal and Airbus has only committed so far to raising output in two steps to 45 a month by the end of 2021, from 40 now.
But it is the first concrete indication of the shape of recovery that the world’s largest planemaker hopes to achieve for benchmark single-aisle jets beyond the end of this year, as it tries to replenish coffers emptied by the pandemic.
“We do not comment on speculation regarding the longer-term trajectory,” an Airbus spokesman said.
“We see the market recovering to pre-COVID levels in the 2023-2025 timeframe, with single-aisle recovering first,” he said, adding, “uncertainties remain”.
Airbus, which had been enjoying record jet demand before the virus triggered widespread travel bans, cut output of its best-selling model by a third to 40 a month one year ago.
In January, it announced plans partially to restore output to 43 a month in the third quarter and 45 a month in the fourth.
Chief executive Guillaume Faury said last month Airbus aimed for a “steep ramp-up” in 2022 and 2023, without elaborating.
Airbus has yet to set even its 2021 targets in stone with firm contracts to all suppliers, suggesting part of the immediate increase will be addressed by using up inventory.
Suppliers say they need anything between 3 months and 18 months to get ready for changes in A320 production.
Analysts say domestic travel in the United States and China is leading the recovery in medium-haul travel, with Europe’s cross-border sector also gradually reopening.
US carrier Southwest Airlines agreed to buy 100 additional Boeing 737 MAX planes, the companies announced on Monday, in a vote of confidence for the aircraft after a 20-month grounding.
DAE, a long-term Boeing partner, has 162 Boeing aircraft in its fleet. The 737 MAX 8 is a member of the 737 MAX family designed to offer more fuel efficiency, reliability, and flexibility in the single-aisle airplane market.
United Airlines and two other major US carriers said on Friday they will quickly repair more than 60 Boeing 737 MAX planes grounded early last month over an electrical problem that could have interfered with critical systems.
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