Airbus CEO Sticks to Higher A320 Output Goal Despite Supply Woes

Airbus SE is confident its global supplier base can overcome pandemic-induced pressures and boost output for the company’s workhorse A320 aircraft family despite the “unprecedented” labor and materials strains currently complicating that effort, Chief Executive Officer Guillaume Faury said.

In an interview Sunday with Bloomberg News, Faury reaffirmed the company’s plan to boost A320 output from 40 per month today to 64 a month in 2023, and said Airbus remains interested in potentially reaching 75 per month around mid-decade. It’s essential the planemaker’s vast supply chain have those ambitious, longer-term targets in mind as they manage through the current turmoil, he said.

“That anticipation is required for the supply chain to do the right things because we’re in an unprecedented situation in terms of tension in the supply chain. And we need to start the ramp up,” said Faury, who’s in Boston for a global aviation summit hosted by the International Air Transport Association.

Airbus suppliers have been hit by raw material shortages, surging logistics costs and labor deficiencies. The challenges are broad, versus the critical shortage of semiconductors that’s idled automobile assembly lines from Detroit to Tokyo, for example, Faury said. Airbus has sent teams to supplier locations to help sort out problems, among other steps to address the issues, he said.

“We think they’ll manage to get on top of it but it will take time because we’re just restarting from a very low level of activity,” he said. “But it needs to go fast for the A320 family, which is the biggest driver for us.”

Airbus is currently assessing the business case of going beyond 64 A320 jets per month and potentially reaching as many as 75 a month by mid-decade and that internal study is slated to conclude next year, Faury said.

“We’re just at the beginning of a journey from 40 to 64,” he said. “In 2022, we’ll need to have a good understanding of what we want to do in 2025 or 2026.”

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