Despite the major slump in demand from airlines laboring under the current economic climate, Airbus said it will boost production of its A320-family aircraft by 18%. The latest move is a sign of encouragement to an industry that has had little to celebrate this year.
The aeroplane maker informed suppliers to prepare for a ramp-up in A320 production next year, with the company set to increase its production rate from 40 to 47 jets a month and to be ready by July 2021 as it anticipates a strong recovery for the industry.
“For the A320 family, we plan to maintain ‘rate 40’ until summer next year and we have asked the supply chain to protect ‘rate 47’ to be prepared for when the market recovers.”
Airbus was already planning to ramp-up A320 production before the coronavirus pandemic, with a backlog of orders stretching into 2025. However, the planemaker was forced to slash its production rate of A320’s by a third in April as it responded to the coronavirus crisis. The latest news is a move towards re-establishing its pre-COVID rates of production, which for the A320 stood at 60 planes per month.
A challenge for suppliers
Ramping up production of such sophisticated aircraft in the present economy will be a challenge for Airbus and its many supply-chain partners.
The A320 manufacturing process involves four facilities in Germany, France, China, and the United States, with parts moving between facilities. In a Financial Times article, one supplier noted the inherent difficulty for supply partners,