Airbus has pushed back its proposed production increase of A320neo planes to the third quarter of 2021. After initially informing suppliers to prepare for a ramp-up in Q2 2021, revised production schedules have earmarked the beginning of Q3 2021 as the earliest possible date.
Airbus aims to meet backlogs
While few airlines are committing to new orders during the ongoing coronavirus crisis, Airbus still has a backlog of orders extending into 2025. In August, Airbus revealed it has a backlog of over 6,000 A320neo planes it aims to deliver by 2025.
Airbus chief executive Guillaume Faury has stressed that the plans to increase production do not amount to a gamble, given the hundreds of existing orders to fulfill.
“It’s backed by the backlog. It’s not speculative, it’s robust.”
Due to the wide-ranging impact of the pandemic, Airbus saw new orders slashed and cancellations from airlines unable to proceed with their orders. As a result, Airbus cut its production rate by one-third in April and has maintained a rate of 40 planes per month ever since.
Several airlines have active orders with Airbus for brand-new A320neo’s. IndiGo, a popular low-cost carrier in India, has ordered 730 A320neo planes in total, while AirAsia has ordered over 400.
Production will go up from 40 to 47 planes per month
As revealed by Simple Flying, Airbus is set to boost its production by 18% to take its monthly rate from 40 to 47 planes. The planemaker has shared its production plans with supply chain partners, who have been told to be ready by the third quarter of 2021.
The complexity of the manufacturing process – involving multiple supply partners across four assembly sites in the United States, Germany, China, and France – may have driven the decision to push-back the schedule. Crucially, Airbus must ensure its supply chain is adequately prepared by the second half of 2021. According to FlightGlobal,
‘Faury says the financial pressure on the supply chain is still an “area of concern” and that Airbus and its suppliers need to “navigate the situation together”.’
Will Airbus ramp-up production of other aircraft?
Airbus is focusing on its narrow-body planes while the coronavirus pandemic continues to affect long-haul travel. The A320neo has become a staple in the short-to-medium-haul market, which has remained relatively stable, with domestic flights quickly recovering.
However, with international travel grinding to a halt, Chief executive Guillaume Faury has essentially ruled out any kind of production increase outside of its single-aisle aircraft,
“We don’t anticipate ramp-up [of long-haul production] as on the single-aisles in the foreseeable future.”
The manufacturer will maintain its current rate of five A350 planes a month, which Faury claims “underpins what we think about recovery of traffic on long-distance flights.” Notably, Airbus is yet to release estimates on aircraft delivery for the final quarter of 2020. The manufacturer delivered 551 A320neo planes in 2019 and was set for a similar figure in 2020 before the pandemic hit.