Airbus has told suppliers to prepare for a ramp up in production as the commercial aircraft market recovers to pre-COVID levels between 2023 and 2025.
According to Airbus, suppliers are being advised to ‘schedule necessary investments and secure long-term capacity and production rate readiness’ in line with the expected recovery, which is being driven by single-aisle aircraft.
“The aviation sector is beginning to recover from the COVID-19 crisis”, Guillaume Faury, Airbus CEO said in a statement. “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 optimising our aerostructures set-up and modernising our A320 Family production facilities. All these actions are set in motion to prepare our future.”
Production of A320s will average 45 aircraft per month in the fourth quarter of 2021, rising to a firm rate of 64 by the second quarter of 2023. Suppliers are being asked to anticipate a scenario of rate 70 by the first quarter of 2024 and as many as 75 by 2025.
Airbus further anticipates a monthly production rate of 14 A220s by the middle of the decade, and six A350s per month by autumn 2022. Production of A330s will remain at an average rate of two per month, with Airbus stating it ‘is protecting its ability to further adapt as the market evolves.’
Commenting on Airbus’ announcement, Paul Adams, partner and aerospace & defence sector specialist at management consultancy, Vendigital, said: “This is a significant ramp-up, signalling a clear path back to pre-pandemic production levels. The plan to produce 64 aircraft by Q2 2023 has come sooner than many industry experts expected and indicates growing market confidence.
“During the pandemic, OEMs have been able to address the production backlogs on many programmes, and will welcome the timing of this new surge in demand. However, there is still a risk of supply chain disruption, as some Tier 2 and 3 manufacturers may have only just made it through the pandemic and lack the cash to pay for raw materials.
“The ramp-up mainly affects the A320 and to a lesser extent the A350, which means demand for wide-body aircraft remains well down on pre-pandemic levels. So while the announcement is good news for the sector, some manufacturers may not feel the benefit.”
A320 Family: Airbus confirms an average A320 Family production rate of 45 aircraft per month in Q4 2021 and calls on suppliers to prepare for the future by securing a firm rate of 64 by Q2 2023. In anticipation of a continued recovering market, Airbus is also asking suppliers to enable a scenario of rate 70 by Q1 2024. Longer term, Airbus is investigating opportunities for rates as high as 75 by 2025.
A220 Family: Currently at around rate five aircraft per month from Mirabel and Mobile, the rate is confirmed to rise to around six in early 2022. Airbus is also envisaging a monthly production rate of 14 by the middle of the decade.
A350 Family: Currently at an average production rate of five per month, this is expected to increase to six by autumn 2022.
A330 Family: Production remains at an average rate of two per month. Airbus is protecting its ability to further adapt as the market evolves.