© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: The Airbus logo pictured at the company’s headquarters in Blagnac near Toulouse, France, March 20, 2019. REUTERS/Regis Duvignau
By Tim Hepher
PARIS (Reuters) -Europe’s Airbus set out sweeping goals on Thursday to expand production of jetliners, pushing shares up more than 6%, as the aviation industry charts a recovery from the coronavirus crisis.
The world’s largest planemaker is exploring an almost two-fold increase in output of best-selling single-aisle jets by the middle of the decade from current crisis-depressed levels, and has finalised its output plans for the rest of this year.
“The aviation sector is beginning to recover from the COVID-19 crisis,” Chief Executive Guillaume Faury said in a statement.
Airbus confirmed plans to increase single-aisle A320neo production by more than 10% from a current rate of 40 airplanes a month to 45 a month by the end of this year. It gave suppliers a firm new target of 64 a month by the second quarter of 2023.
The new production targets come after Reuters reported that Airbus had ordered suppliers to demonstrate as soon as possible that they are factory fit for increased single-aisle jet output, while warning of industrial quality problems.
Shares in Airbus rose as much as 6.8%, soaring back above 100 euros to within a whisker of their 52-week high of 104.54.
Demand for single-aisle jets is recovering as domestic travel rebounds, especially in the United States and China.
In anticipation of a continued recovery in that market, Airbus is asking its suppliers to “enable a scenario” where it can produce 70 single-aisle jets a month by the first quarter of 2024.
“Longer term, Airbus is investigating opportunities for rates as high as 75 (a month) by 2025,” it said.
Analysts at Jefferies (NYSE:) described the move by Boeing (NYSE:)’s main rival as “punchy production plans”.
Airbus also gave a firm target of increasing production of the small A220 from five a month to six a month in early 2022 and said it was envisaging monthly output of 14 for the same model by the middle of the decade.
The planemaker said production of the wide-bodied A350 was expected to rise from an average of five a month now to six by the autumn of 2022. Long-haul travel on jets like these is expected to be slowest to recover.
Only the wide-bodied A330 family is excluded from the higher production ambitions and will stay at two a month, Airbus said.
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