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.
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