Airbus SE is preparing to gear up production of its best-selling A320-series jets beyond pre-pandemic levels within two years, as a recovery in global aviation gains pace.
The European planemaker is telling suppliers it plans to raise output of the best-selling narrow-body to a rate of 64 per month by the second quarter of 2023, it said in a statement Thursday. It’s telling them to prepare to take that figure to 70 a month early the following year and as high as 75 per month by 2025.
The plans will give makers of parts ranging from engines, seats and avionics time to invest in their own operations to be ready when demand returns. Airbus and its chief rival Boeing Co. count on thousands of suppliers to contribute to commercial jetliners that can cost $100 million or more.
“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,” Chief Executive Officer Guillaume Faury said in the statement.
The move also offers insight into how quickly demand could rebound as airlines recover from a pandemic that has wiped out demand for air travel. The longer-term outlook has improved with the global rollout of vaccinations, even as short-term flareups jeopardize progress.
“We think it is premature, but Airbus is the one with a constant dialogue with airline customers and it has called things pretty well to date,” said Sandy Morris, an analyst with Jefferies. He said he’s concerned that further disruption from the pandemic and pressure to lower emissions will drag on demand. “Nonetheless, Airbus will know all that too.”
Airbus, which has widened its lead in single-aisle planes over Boeing during the pandemic, confirmed its plans to raise production to 45 A320s per month by the fourth quarter of this year. The figures stands at 40 per month now, a third lower than it was when the outbreak hit in early 2020.
The Toulouse, France-based company also said it would increase production of its smaller A220 to six per month from five in early 2022, with a goal of reaching 14 monthly by the middle of the decade.
Larger twin-aisle aircraft are expected to take longer to recover. Airbus said it will keep production of its A330 planes at two per month, while looking to lift A350 output to six per month from five in the second half of 2022.