As Airbus wraps up 2021 with a trio of massive orders, the planemaker is more ambitious than ever. Given its ever-growing backlog, the European giant plans to push ahead with production hikes for the A320 family, even exceeding the 65 monthly aircraft output scheduled for today. Let’s find out more.
Ready to grow
As Airbus’ order book continues to grow, the manufacturer is confident it can increase output for the A320 family. In June, Airbus said that it has plans to raise A320 production to 64 aircraft a month by mid-2023, slightly higher than pre-pandemic rates (60/month). However, this may not be enough.
Given the order for 40 planes (with options for 94) from Qantas and 100 from Air France-KLM this week, Airbus CCO Christian Scherer has said the firm can justify increases in the A320s production rate. According to Reuters, he said,
“What we are seeing materialise in formal decisions is something that we could see coming for months now…It now publicly strengthens what we kind of knew all along.”
The statement signals that Airbus is more willing to go beyond the agreed 65 planes a month and achieve a target of 75 jets. While a new timeline for this increase is unknown, the European giant previously said that it is eying 2025 for such an increase. However, not everyone is in support of this decision.
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While increased production is a boon for most suppliers, there are some who may lose out. In particular, engine manufacturers have been vocal behind the scenes against an increase.
They fear that the faster rate of A320 production will cause airlines to retire aircraft earlier and replace them, causing millions in engine maintenance revenue to be lost. Similarly, other suppliers have been fearful of losing access to maintenance revenue, a vital chunk of the balance sheet.
However, Airbus is not too concerned that engine makers would oppose such a plan in reality. Scherer notes that Qantas’ decision to go with Pratt & Whitney engines says,
“It would seem that Pratt & Whitney’s recent success indicates they are in agreement with the Airbus view of the market.”
Lots to come
However, it’s not only the fresh orders driving Airbus’ output plans. Indeed, the arrival of the A321XLR in 2023 will likely be a gamechanger for airlines, allowing them to fly long-haul routes more efficiently than ever before. With the XLR joining the existing queue for the A320neo and A321neo, demand could rise even further by the late-2020s.
All of these considerations have led Airbus to seriously consider enacting its goal for 75 jets a month. With the A380 production line in Toulouse being converted to one for the A321 and a new assembly line in the US, the manufacturer may just have the wherewithal to reach record rates.
What do you think about Airbus’ planned production increases? Let us know in the comments!