Airbus said Thursday it will produce more single-aisle planes in 2023 than before the coronavirus crisis as the European aerospace giant sees the aviation sector ascending from the pandemic.
The aircraft maker had slowed its production early on in the pandemic last year as Covid-19 and border closures caused a massive drop in air traffic, severely denting the earnings of airlines.
"The aviation sector is beginning to recover from the COVID-19 crisis," Airbus chief executive Guillaume Faury said in a statement.
The company said it expects the commercial aircraft market "to recover to pre-Covid levels between 2023 and 2025, led by the single-aisle segment".
Airbus is "therefore providing suppliers with an update of its production plans, giving visibility in order to schedule necessary investments and secure long term capacity and production rate readiness, in line with the expected recovery", it said.
Airbus shares soared at the Paris stock exchange following the announcement.
Airbus is currently producing 40 planes of the A320 family per month but the company said it would increase the average rate to 45 during the last three months of this year.
It added that suppliers should "prepare for the future by securing a firm rate" of 64 A320 planes by the second quarter of 2023. The cadence will increase to 70 per month in 2024 and possibly 75 by 2025.
It is crucial for Airbus to unveil production plans early as making an aircraft involves a long supply chain to produce engine parts and assemble planes.
The company was producing 60 A320 planes per month before the pandemic and had planned to increase the rate to 63 in 2020 until Covid-19 changed those plans.
The aerospace firm also cut 15,000 jobs out of 135,000 posts, though the company avoided layoffs in France, Germany, Britain and Spain, its main locations.
The A320 jet is made at assembly lines in France, Germany, the United States and China.
- Long-haul struggle -
Airbus will also step up production of its smaller, single-aisle A220 plane, which is assembled in Mobile, Alabama, and Mirabel in Quebec.
The recovery of wider-bodied planes is less bright as long-haul flights have been the most affected by the pandemic.
Airbus said it would increase production of its A350 twin-aisle planes from five to six per month by autumn 2022 compared to 10 before the crisis.
A330 production will remain at two per month compared to three before the pandemic.
Airbus has posted profits for two consecutive quarters and expects to deliver 566 planes in 2021, the same as last year.