This story is part of AIN's continuing coverage of the impact of the coronavirus on aviation.
A highly anticipated plan to cut monthly production rates at Airbus took effect Wednesday, as the company revealed that 60 airplanes it produced during the first quarter remain undelivered to customers due to the Covid-19 crisis. The company delivered 35 aircraft in March, down from 55 in February, reflecting customer requests for delivery deferrals and what Airbus called other factors related to the pandemic.
Specifically, Airbus plans to cut rates of its A320 family to 40 per month from a peak of 60 in 2019. Widebody production, meanwhile, will see A330 rates drop from some 3.25 per month to two per month, while A350 rates fall from roughly 10 per month to six. In February Airbus had already announced an A330 cut from 53 in 2019 to 40 in 2020.
The moves represent a reduction of the pre-coronavirus average rates of roughly one third throughout the Airbus product line. The company said the cuts preserve its ability to meet customer demand while protecting its ability to further adapt as the market evolves.
During this year’s first quarter, Airbus booked net orders for 290 commercial airplanes and delivered 122.
The company added that it continues to work with its social partners to define the most appropriate measures to adapt to the evolving situation, address a short-term cash containment plan, and revisit its strategy for its longer-term cost structure.
“The impact of this pandemic is unprecedented,” said Airbus chief executive officer Guillaume Faury. “At Airbus, protecting our people and supporting the fight against the virus are our chief priorities at this time. We are in constant dialogue with our customers and supply chain partners as we are all going through these difficult times together. Our airline customers are heavily impacted by the Covid-19 crisis. We are actively adapting our production to their new situation and working on operational and financial mitigation measures to face reality.”
In reaction to the pandemic, Airbus most recently decided to pause commercial aircraft production and assembly activity at its German sites in Bremen and Stade and its U.S. A220/A320 manufacturing facility in Mobile, Alabama. Airbus said the actions come in response to several factors related to the Covid-19 pandemic including high inventory levels at the sites and the various government recommendations and requirements that affect flow at different stages of production.
During the past two weeks, Airbus paused production and assembly work in France and Spain for four days to implement required health and safety measures. Production and assembly in France have resumed gradually since March 23. Commercial aircraft wing production operations in the UK and commercial aircraft production activities in Spain and Canada remain suspended due to government restrictions and what Airbus characterizes as high stock levels.