Airbus has confirmed that it will ramp up its production target for its A320 family of aircraft to 45 per month by the end of this year, and up to 64 jets per month by Q2 2023, as industry optimism grows that the COVID crisis nears its end.
Hitting its target of 64 jets by mid-2022 will see Airbus surpass its pre-COVID A320 production level by four jets per month, and also exceed its pre-crisis goal of achieving an output of 63 A320s per month.
Longer term, Airbus is forecasting to see its popular mid-sized A320 family production rate hit 70 per month by the first quarter of 2024, and 75 by 2025.
It comes as analysts and industry consensus sees narrow-bodied medium-haul aircraft leading the aircraft market recovery prospects, due to their appropriate size amid post-pandemic travel demand.
The announcement confirms recent rumours that Airbus had informed its suppliers to gear up for a near-20 per cent increase in A320 production output by the end of 2022.
Meanwhile, the European planemaker hopes to increase the production on its A220 and A350 family aircraft both to six jets per month by the end of 2022.
Airbus will keep the production of its A330 jets stable at two jets per month for the foreseeable future.
The news follows a number of recent revelations that suggest that the industry is growing in its optimism that the COVID crisis is nearing its end, and that single-aisle, medium-haul workhorse aircraft will be the first sector to see a meaningful recovery across the industry.
“The aviation sector is beginning to recover from the COVID-19 crisis,” chief executive Guillaume Faury said in a statement.
The news comes just days after the International Air Transport Association released a new report that appeared to see it revise its current forecast for travel demand recovery to 2023, down from its previous forecast of 2024, as global border restrictions begin to ease.
In the report, released in conjunction with Tourism Economics, IATA is now projecting that international passenger numbers will hit 52 per cent of pre-pandemic levels throughout 2021, with this figure increasing to 88 per cent by 2022.
Most notably, the industry body is now predicting that international air travel demand will in fact surpass 2019 levels by the end of 2023, ultimately reaching 105 per cent of pre-COVID capacity.
The IATA made its bold call largely off the back of a strong vaccine rollout in key industry arenas around the world, including the US, the Middle East, and Europe, as well as slowly easing global border restrictions.