Airbus is ramping up production of its jets in a sign of confidence that the aviation industry will bounce back strongly from the pandemic.
Guillaume Faury, chief executive of the airline manufacturer, said it will speed up the rate at which it builds jets as he declared the aviation industry was “beginning to recover from the COVID-19 crisis”.
The chief executive said the recovery would be led by demand for smaller, short-haul jets.
Mr Faury told suppliers to be on standby for a surge in demand.
Sandy Morris, an aviation analyst at Jefferies, called Airbus’s plans “punchy”.
“We recognise Airbus called aircraft demand correctly as soon as April 2020, so have our eyes wide open, but still think much may yet unfold in terms of the need to reduce emissions, hence what the airline industry may need to plan for when rebuilding its balance sheet.”
Higher production rates will deliver a significant boost to a number of British companies which are key parts of Airbus’s supply chain, such as Melrose-owned GKN, Senior and Bodycote.
Production of Airbus’s bestselling family of single-aisle A320 jets will increase from 40 aircraft per month to 45 by the end of this year, hitting 64 by summer 2023, a similar level to before the pandemic.
Airbus said that suppliers should be ready for a monthly build rate of 70 jets by the first quarter of 2024, the company’s highest-ever production rate for the A320 model.
Airbus, which makes the wings for all its airliners at its manufacturing base in Broughton, North Wales, slashed output by about a third last summer as Covid-19 caused demand to plummet.
It also cut more than 10pc of its staff – 15,000 jobs – as it adjusted to the new environment.
Airbus added it was investigating opportunities for rates as high as 75 by 2025 for the jet, which is currently assembled at plants in France, Germany, the US and China.
The smaller A220, which is built in the US and Canada, will go from the current five per month to around six next year, with the company planning 14 per month by the middle of the decade.
Demand for smaller aircraft is predicted to recover faster than larger long-haul jets due to uncertainty over travel restrictions and demand for long-distance travel.
Airbus said it would raise production of its A350 twin-aisle planes from five to six per month by autumn 2022. Before the crisis it built 10 per month.
The company’s other large aircraft, the A330, will remain at two per month compared to three before the pandemic.
News of the production increases sent Airbus shares soaring, rising 9pc to €106.