Airbus Taps Brakes on A320 Rate Increases

 - January 21, 2021, 12:39 PM
A320s undergo assembly at Airbus's Hangar 9 final assembly line in Hamburg, Germany. (Photo: Airbus)

This story is part of AIN's continuing coverage of the impact of the coronavirus on aviation.

Airbus will slow a planned increase in A320-family production rates as it reacts to further demand pressure created by the Covid-19 pandemic, the company said Thursday. The expected gradual increase from the current rate of 40 A320s per month will now increase to just 43 per month in the third quarter and 45 in the fourth quarter, compared with the previously planned jump to 47 of the narrowbodies starting in July.

The company’s A220 monthly production rate will increase from four to five aircraft per month starting at the end of the first quarter as previously planned, while widebody output remains at current levels. Airbus also said it will postpone a potential increase for the A350 and maintain its five-per-month rate. A330 production will remain at two-per-month for the foreseeable future.

“Airbus continues to monitor the market closely,” said the company in a statement. “With these revised rates, Airbus preserves its ability to meet customer demand while protecting its ability to further adapt as the global market evolves. Airbus expects the commercial aircraft market to return to pre-Covid levels by 2023 to 2025.”

Airbus’s Covid-related production cuts began in April, when it reported it would reduce A320 output from 60 in 2019 to 40 this year. Widebody production, meanwhile, saw A330 rates drop from some 3.25 per month to two per month, and A350 rates fell from roughly 10 per month to six, and then again to five. Two months earlier Airbus had already announced an A330 cut from 53 in 2019 to 40 in 2020. The moves represented a reduction of the pre-coronavirus average rates of roughly one-third throughout the Airbus product line. 

Airbus's commercial aircraft deliveries last year reached 556 commercial aircraft, 34 percent fewer than in 2019 but in line with what the company calls the adaptation plan it instituted in April. The airframer also logged new orders for 383 airplanes and registered a net order count of 268 after cancellations.