Airbus Plans for Big Boost of A320 Production Rates

 - May 27, 2021, 7:55 AM
Airbus is to increase production rates for its A320 narrowbody airliner family, including the A321XLR for which assembly work began in May. (Photo: Airbus)

Airbus has notified suppliers that it plans to boost production of A320-family jets from an average of 45 per month in the fourth quarter in 2021 to 64 per month by the second quarter of 2023. In a statement issued Thursday, the company said it has also started preparing for a rate of 70 per month by the first quarter of 2024, reflecting a bullish outlook for post-Covid recovery of the narrowbody sector.

“The aviation sector is beginning to recover from the Covid-19 crisis,” said Airbus CEO Guillaume Faury. “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. In parallel, we are transforming our industrial system by optimizing our aerostructures set-up and modernizing our A320 Family production facilities. All these actions are set in motion to prepare our future.”

Separately, the company confirmed an increase in A220 production from five per month to six in early 2022. It said it envisions a monthly production rate of 14 per month by the middle of the decade.

Among widebodies, plans call for an increase in the monthly A350 rate from five to six by autumn 2022, while A330 production remains at two per month.

Airbus’s Covid-related production cuts began in April 2020, 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. 

The European aerospace group'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.