Airbus tells suppliers to plan for 18% output hike in 2022, sources say

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A logo of Airbus is seen at the entrance of its factory in Blagnac near Toulouse, France, July 2, 2020. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier/File Photo

By Tim Hepher

PARIS (Reuters) – Europe’s Airbus is asking suppliers to get ready for a further 18% increase in A320-family jet output during 2022, on top of existing targets for this year, as airlines ready for a partial return to normal travel, industry sources said.

The tentative new goal would lift output of the workhorse domestic and medium-haul jet, which competes with Boeing (NYSE:)’s partially grounded 737 MAX, to 53 a month, they told Reuters.

The number being floated for end-2022 remains informal and Airbus has only committed so far to raising output in two steps to 45 a month by end-2021 from 40 now.

But it is the first concrete indication of the shape of recovery Airbus hopes to achieve for its main single-aisle jets next year as it restores coffers depleted by the pandemic.

“We do not comment on speculation regarding the longer-term trajectory,” a company spokesman said.

“We see the market recovering to pre-COVID levels in the 2023-2025 timeframe, with single-aisle recovering first,” he said, adding, “uncertainties remain”.

Airbus, which had been enjoying record jet demand before the virus triggered widespread travel bans, cut output of its best-selling model by a third to 40 a month around a year ago.

In January, it announced plans to increase output to 43 a month in the third quarter and 45 a month in the fourth.

Chief executive Guillaume Faury said last month Airbus aimed for a “steep ramp-up” in 2022 and 2023, without elaborating.

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Some suppliers have warned of bumps ahead in restoring pre-pandemic production as smaller parts makers struggle with cash shortages. Airbus must also address industrial snags that held up dozens of deliveries even before COVID-19, they say.

Output of larger wide-bodied jets remains depressed by travel restrictions and is not expected to recover soon.

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