Why New Widebodies Will Be In High Demand Once The Pandemic Has Passed

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The global health crisis continues to take its toll on the aviation industry from top to bottom. While passenger activity has plummeted across the board, it is long-haul operations that have generally been most affected. As a result, many widebody aircraft have been parked for months while several have been retired for good. However, Airbus shared today that it believes new widebodies will be in high demand after the pandemic is over.

A350
Airbus has high hopes for the future of its widebodies. Photo: Getty Images

The climate will improve

In Airbus’ Annual Press Conference, the manufacturer’s chief executive officer, Guillaume Faury, offered his thoughts about the state of the industry. When responding to a question from Benjamin Katz from the Wall Street Journal about the prospects of the market’s recovery and the current rate of production, Faury explained that Airbus is focused on delivering on its backlog.

The businessman is confident that the social climate will improve with international events such as the Euro on the cards. These competitions will help to bring activity back for both Boeing and Airbus operators.

Faury adds that widebody aircraft will take more time to recover than narrowbodies. However, it may be a steep hump when the time comes. This is because many units are being retired during the pandemic, but when traffic returns on international routes, there will be a need for planes.

Air France, Airbus A380, Retired
The crisis catalyzed the retirement of several widebodies. Photo: Getty Images

Hope for the future

To meet this future demand, the industry has to plan for the long term. Overall, the executive feels that there are positives for the modern widebodies in production.

“The 350 obviously is now very well established in the market of planes. The 350s were flying a lot in the crisis, that’s confirming what we hear from customers that it’s a very competitive plane and very much fitting with the new COVID-19 situation with the need for smaller modules, and very competitive low emissions. That’s the situation for the 350. On the 330neo, we are on the back foot because we were at the beginning of the ramp-up of the 330neo when the pandemic hit.” Faury said in the press conference.

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“We think we are robust and resilient at a rate of two per month. If it has to go slightly below it’s still manageable we don’t see the need for going slightly below at the moment, but we remain prudent, and when we look, on the other side of the river, we see as we have an important program that is also a program for the long. We think the 330neo is a very strong asset of our product range for both commercial and military derivatives, and we will keep it in the range, just to be loud and clear on that.”

A330neo
The A330neo was introduced in 2018, but the production rate decreased from 3.5 to two per month last April amid the pandemic. Photo: Getty Images

Patiently waiting

Altogether, the challenges continue for the aviation industry amid the current wave of restrictions across the globe. However, there has been significant progress in vaccination programs. It may be a while till we see the impact of these vaccines, but when the situation improves, Airbus has the right solutions for airlines’ operations.

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What are your thoughts about the future of widebody models following the pandemic? Do you have hopes for this type of plane this decade? Let us know what you think of the prospects in the comment section.

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