Airbus cut production rates by a third

By Scott Hamilton

Production of the A320 and A220 in Mobile is paused. Airbus hasn’t decided what to do about A220 rates, yet.

April 8, 2020, © Leeham News: Airbus today said it will cut production of the A320, A330, and A350 lines due to COVID-19.

The new rates are:

  • A320 to rate 40 per month (from 60-63);
  • A330 to rate 2 per month (from 3.5)
  • A350 to rate 6 per month (from 10)


Airbus is still assessing the A220 production rate. The Mirabel facility will return to 4/mo (from 5) but the Mobile (AL) facility is coming on line. Production is currently suspended to the end of the month.

“We are still assessing our industrial planning to adapt to the rapidly evolving situation as best as is possible in the current context,” an Airbus spokesman said.

“We are preparing our operations in Mirabel for restarting at a progressive return to rate 4, which we plan to stabilize until mid-2021, while our plan in Mobile is unchanged for now.” Mobile is producing at 1-2/mo.


46 Comments on “Airbus cut production rates by a third

  1. Unless they build white tails or store, A320 would seem to be 5-10 a month at most.

    A330 one just to maintain (I believe there are MR orders out there on the CEO. ) Delta was the other big taker and they are shutdown.

    A350 throttle down to 1 just to maintain. No long range travel, maybe some regional recovery in Asia.

    Going to be strange year for sure.

    • Looks like you found the Palantir again. Mind to share where your wisdom originates from? Of is this pure speculation, flying by the seat of your pants with zero visibility, ignoring all instruments?

      • W.A.G.

        Logic: No air travel, airlines are busted, why would you take delivery?

        • Delta has 105 flights in the air as I type this..about 18:30 EDT.
          If they aint flying , someone should let them know

          • One long term result of COVID-19 could be the change in the culture of air travel for business purposes, this being reduced/replaced in many instances by the use of various digital platforms. This might shift the emphasis of air travel further towards recreation, it will be however depend largely on the recovery of world economies and may take a (very) long time?

          • Duke:

            Amazing how silly that sounds. 105 flights ain’t diddly squat.

            FYI: Another schooling, Delta has 875 aircraft.

            Do the math, that is 12%. I would say they are grounded.

          • So ‘your maths’ says they have all their planes in the air at once during ordinary times during evening peak? say nothing in hangar maintenance.

            How do they do those amazing turnarounds and never any taxi time
            Delta says their load factor is around 25% currently and that half the ( domestic?) fleet is parked. Which is reflected in the domestic numbers ‘in air’

  2. It is the correct measure taken in minimizing worker’s exposure to the COVID-19. Extra precautions should be taken when workers arrive and leave with a quick medical check to ascertain that they are working with no risk of contamination. A temporary shutdown is to clean and decontaminate the working areas thoroughly. Airbus, in contrast with Boeing, has a constant demand for its aircrafts in spite of
    the current Aviation standstill, being sure that Airbus will not be producing 400 odd planes to have them depreciating in their backyard, since these are orders which have been cleared for immediate delivery. Lessons learned from the Boeing B737 MAX fiasco I don’t think will be repeated by them.

    • “Constant demand”? No airline wants any plane, regardless of manufacturer at present. Rate reductions match the reality that it will take time for Demand to recover.

    • From my understanding Airbus are down to a 7 hour work day with everyone cleaning 1 hour per day. It’s hygiene and cleaning that will crush this pathogen more than social distancing, face masks and washing hands. The workspace needs to be thoroughly and repeatedly cleaned. That factor seems to be ignored in all of this. Airbus seem to be doing it right. It would be nice if the rest of the world dealt with the underlying hygiene issues rather than just hoping for vaccines that aren’t going to come for well over a year if ever. Testing of travellers will also prevent them from spreading once a mass testing system is up to capacity.

      • Its not a hygiene issue as much as the usual aerosol from people speaking or coughing.
        The rapid spreads on cruise ships , normally very clean places shows those who talk about hygiene first are clutching at straws. In essence wearing the face masks as has long been common in Asia seems to a positive factor as its just another method of creating social distancing where space isnt available.
        Just reading this morning locally about elderly person who just came out of hospital and her source ? She was on a long haul flight 2 seats from the person who gave it to her.

        • If you were right about COVID-19 primarily being an airborne risk they wouldn’t be telling us to wash hands. That’s a loosing battle if people are indifferent. Basically nasal run of, or contamination from nose picking(very common) or nose rubbing(also very common), or sneezing into ones elbow/wrist, slobber from touching the side of ones mouth is getting on to hands. It then spreads from hands on to door handles, keypads and touch screens during transactions, keyboards, someone the armrest of your chair, or airline seat, serving utensils, kitchenet drawers, elevator pushbuttons, the kettle at work. Face masks will limit the dispersals of breath, splatter from sneezing and talking but also prevents the wearer touching their own nose and side of mouth between hand washes. One of the 8 of the first Chinese Doctors that had been arrested for ‘spreading false rumours’ about the virulence of COVID-19 that the communist Chinese police arrested was an specialist opthalmatologist and had picked up this disease in eyes.

          By cleaning we eliminate the pathogen stopping it from infecting someone. This is a statistical process. The transmisbility of the disease R0

          • Sorry William but Duke is quite correct…

            “The virus that causes COVID-19 is thought to spread mainly from person to person, mainly through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. … Spread is more likely when people are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet).”
            “It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes. This is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads


          • @william

            Life on Mars – obviously a hostile nature can impose and maintain such aspects of total hygiene as you mention

            But only in well infrastructured advanced industrial economies

            Thermal track and trace in real time etc

            But- have you any idea of the cost? Or do you know how to approach a practical evaluation of costing

            For (approx) 70% of the world’s population your solution is not workable – quarantine them? or…?

            Like many people you are throwing technology, with sci fi overtones, at a predicament in nature, the bug’s strengths and your human weaknesses

            Bugs evolve, maybe, quicker than your reactions/solutions

            Then what?

            Think of it the other way round, capitalism and c- lifestyle is the virus, the origin and source of your sickness, the bug is the solution, showing you your weaknesses and failings, and guiding you towards a better way of life

          • @Gerrard White, So it’s implied the hygiene I emphasize is part of a “hostile personality”. I’m sure the 8 doctors arrested for spreading false rumours about the contagiousness of this disease were regarded as hostile and negative personalities. Communists officials high up in state enterprises and administration are often very affable charismatic personalities, like intelligent people everywhere, and dining with them (which I’ve done) can be a hilarious experience. They have a good sense of humour. I wouldn’t trust them and wont be seduced.

            As far as your claim that ‘hygiene’ is unaffordable for 70% of the world?? Where does that come from. You think a simple window cleaning solution and paper cloth on everyone’s desk and placed in reach at all toilets, kitchenets, check in machines, self service super markets machines and banking machines is unaffordable? All that is needed is a wipe down several times per day. I’m date stamping myself but the western world has become sloppy with hygiene, anyone can see that.

            @Lars. Governments don’t know what they are doing, their failure and ever changing reactions are proof of that. First thing you have to acknowledge they have mishandled this or at least know no more than you. Its is a disaster and most governments are making it up as they go along bluffing their competance. Why would you trust them, start working it out yourself. The WHO has even been outright malicious towards western nations at an atavistic level while praising totalitarian regimes.

            First of all lets see how wrong they’ve been.

            1 Air transmission. The 3ft-6ft rule (translated to 1.5m) has been traced back to flawed 1940’s research. Airborne transmissions goes much further than this. Scientific researchers are often as sloppy as historians in circular references to a single unreliable source that are mere rumours ennobled by cross references to each others. First they were saying its only a sneeze spreading COVID-19 now some countries are now recommending face protection, some not.

            2 Contact transmission. Why are they telling folks to not touch their face and to wash their hands if it wasn’t transmitted by contact?

            3 The inside furnishings and walls of the cruise ship cabins where COVID-19 infectees were accommodated were covered in virus RNA. Maybe this wasn’t all living virus but we know the virus can survive 2 days on some surfaces. Its not going to have a problems surviving 2 hours on a door handle, toilet press flush, desk, or touch screen of a self service bank etc. Take your own window clean squirted and paper towels. The sheeple at your office probably won’t provide it.

            4 Singapore has been highly organised. They have extensive testing and software to trace back the contact points of infected people with others. They were able to trace one infection to a person that sat in an exact church pew several hours after and infected person sat there.

            They don’t know what they are doing. Take things into your own hands, don’t wait for them to tell you.

            The transmissibility of the disease R0 has to be gotten down below 1.0 in order for the disease to disappear. Influenza is 1.3, COVID may be as high as 2.7. If social isolation, masks and hand washing may or may not work but if you can lower transmissibility by a further 20% from 1.2 to 0.96 why wouldn’t you do such a simple thing which carries no more cost than a bottle of window cleaner every fortnight and a hundred paper towels.

          • Clean hands and clean surfaces only keeps it from physical transfer. And then it only gets into mouth and nasal tissues if the hands make considerable contact.
            meanwhile airborne virus will sail right into the deepest nasal passages no matter how clean the surrounding surfaces are and even worse one person can infect multiple people in crowded locations. In my country a wedding at an isolated location has infected over 70 people, a guest came from overseas.

        • I wanted to add that the reason South Korea, Singapore were successful was lots of testing (even before they had the first infection), proper 2 week quarantine in safe comfortable conditions and exhaustive tracing back of the anyone that had come into contact with the infected person. These nations had some experience with SARS and were far more prepared. That disease was stopped by these methods. I was in Manilla 5 weeks ago, all of the international hotels were using pyrometers to measure temperatures. If you had a fever you weren’t getting in. That might only catch 10% but its something.

          • Washing your hands lowers the count on your hands and if you touch you face reduces (not stops) transfer.

            Same with surfaces. Ego, hygiene has its place.

            The top effective though is Physical Distancing, no groups (aircraft cabins) as primarily airborne.

  3. Mobile hasn’t delivered an A220 yet , right?

    What I found via google was first delivery ~~2020Q3 ?

    • I think that is correct, @Uwe. Delta is the first Mobile customer.

      • And according to the ABCD listing, that plane is painted and waiting for its first flight. As noted elsewhere, maybe in the throws of all this mess, Delta would want the most fuel efficient plane possible to run certain City Pairs during this downturn. Anyways, as most know, it would be an A220-300 with probably two-class seating for 134 or 135.

  4. Thanks Scott. Things have surely changed, the road to recovery aint going to be easy and strait forward.

    Was wondering if the traveling culture is going to change back to Hub-&-Spoke where Government Agencies have better controls of what and whom is coming into a country or going further into the direction of the direct connection of destinations where passengers can avoid the congestion and personal risks associated with larger hubs?

    This could re-calibrate how aircraft manufacturers look at and plan for the future.

    • I believe Hub and Spoke will work better when passenger numbers are down.

      USA skies compared to Europe are still full with aircraft. Airlines say/ goverment demands they must maintain service. Why not change to H&S model instead of PtP. This way one can still have flights to every airport with more or less acceptable load factors.

  5. Rather good news!
    With temporary lay off government help schemes in its various sites, AIRBUS should be making money…

    • Rather good news,are you deluded. My son has just been furloughed at Broughton. It is not good news for him and many more!

  6. Production rate cut is expected from any manufacturer. One third is a very optimistic cut. For A320 will be probably enough. But widebodies? a 50% seems lucky enough for me.

    Very good time for any airline with founds to gain super-slots in a queue for A320. But there will be any? 😉

    • Indeed.
      As some current A320/B737 routes will be getting “thinner” for a relatively long period, the A220 might be the right fit…

    • The frequencies on many shorter minor routes had become ridiculous, it was more about airport slots and gates .
      Instead of a single airline to have 20 + flights from say La Guardia to Boston ( others would have large numbers as well) they could keep using their standard single aisles and have from 7-8 or around 12.
      Problem solved until traffic really picks up, but those who financed the plane leasing boom including airlines ‘internal leases’ will be taking a colossal haircut.
      I see Alaska was sending the first of the Virgin America A320s , even at 12 yrs old, to part out specialists. A lot more will join them. It may even mean those 737 NGs with cracked pickle forks wont be repaired now.

  7. No passengers, no new planes needed

    No Passengers, no revenue.

    • @Transworld
      “No passengers, no new planes needed”
      Only true if no more air travel.
      Air travel is not going away. True,a major reset will occur, but air travel will be back and along with it the demand for new aircraft.
      Far better to look forward and comment how these recent events will change things, both globally and nationally rather than resort to useless quips.

      • So, you’re a Kiwi also. In light of the PM’s exhortation to “be kind to one another” in these challenging times, perhaps you could leave out the personal digs in future.

        • BernieNZ:

          The reality is for the near future (which is ahead by the way) no passengers, no revenue and hugely if not total shutdown.

          Mid term, vastly fewer passenger, vastly fewer revenues, low oil prices and the need to recover means not only no need but no reason for new aircraft. How long mid term last is WAG. I expect 5 years and we may have a whole new world of travel (or not)

          Long term, Boeing might acualy come out with a new aircraft!

          • Transworld

            100% agree.

            For me the future of long haul is the interesting thing. This could be centred around smaller ultra long range aircraft flying point to point with cabins designed to provide a decent level of comfort & service.

            Imagine an A220/A322/B373 sized aircraft fitted with an Emirates A380 economy class seats capable of 8000 miles.

            I certainly don’t feel confident in predicting the longer term outcomes and I and not convinced anybody does – just have to wait and see.

          • Those smaller single aisles dont have cruising speed current wide-bodies have, they are much much slower and then there is the belly cargo thing.
            The A330 neo and the 787, 8 and 9 across, are the planes that can do longer haul at a decent speed , with a good mix of premium passengers and belly cargo

          • Its all about economics.

            Low fuel prices and older siarvat are still viable.

            Forever to return on fuel on a new one, but you have a 5 year waranty.

            So everyone will have their calculator out, where you can fly single aisle (Hawaii, Atlantic) they will because they are so much cheaper cargo is not a big factor (it don’t get no cheaper than single aisle so pax pay the rent)

            Longer routes and those with cargo, that is another factor so A330CEO/NEO and 787 are the ideal aircraft with a nod to the 787.

            The big birds will be the last to recover (A350/777 of all types) –

            How long is a guess, I can see a surge when vaccine is widespread but then big drop off as bossiness have adjusted and need to recover.

            LCC long distance does not work, you need the high paying pax.

            We may never see Singapore to NY with its 172 on an A350 again.

    • People aren’t flying at the moment because they’re not allowed to. There’s no real reason to expect that once they are allowed to they will not want to. I would expect, if anything, a prolonged period of lockdown will increase the thirst for leisure travel. And airlines have to look beyond the immediate rebound – aging aircraft will have to be replaced. There may be a short term slowdown but unless there’s a real economic slump demand will still be there for a good proportion of the backlog.

      • Travel fell off dramatically before shutdowns, US is not shutdown, people quit traveling on their own.

        Though that is the $64 trillion question.

        Habits are being changed, people are thinking, is this really worth it? Cruise ships have severe black eye now (they continued sailings when they should not have)

        Business travel has been a backbone and they are working around that.

        Its going to be some years before a pattern emerges.

        Options will be far more limited as many airlines will go belly up and not resume.

        I would guess 5 years before a new normal is achieved. What that is, WAG, close to the old, much reduced, its a new time and no data. Pulse and then different?

        I do have a long planned trip, so I might be in the rush, but ticket prices are a major factor.

        • People also are not getting on planes because of the easy transmission of Covid-19. Lately the experts are saying it is three times more contagious than the most potent flu virus. Those people might not be afraid of getting sick, but they are afraid of passing it on to elder parents, etc.,… I’ve taken people to the airport in the past week or so. They all wanted masks…

  8. Don’t forget that the price of oil/fuel will play a part in any eventual recovery of demand for new aircraft. If oil prices remain at $30/barrel or so then aircraft such as the A320Ceo and B737NG can easily compete with their newer siblings.

  9. Airbus reports 60 non delivered planes.

    Interesting that China with the A320 factory can deliver those.

    Citing crews not able to get to aircraft but you have to wonder how hard any airline is trying .

    They could fly their own crews on private flights to do it or get executive jets to do so.

    • obviously keeping your feet still and waiting a bit is out of the question. How predictable Mr. TransWorld.

  10. This has some insight on the decision matrix facing airlines. How it falls out is going to depend on how long, what financiall shape you are in, huge price of fuel and the legal commitments and how flexible A and B are in the terms of those.

    Anyone who claims they can see where its all going should play the stock market or go to Vegas.

    Lufthansa is retiring 747-400s, A340s, Virgin the A340s etc. How much over capacity was in the system to start with? How over committed? (if at all).

    For now there is just no answer and even eventual answer is not going to be the same for all as each faces differentiate aspects and will adjust their future (if there is one for them) as best they can.

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