Outlook 2023: ramping up production at Airbus

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By Vincent Valery and Scott Hamilton


Jan. 2, 2023, © Leeham News: LNA wrote a year ago that ramping up single-aisle production would be Airbus' major 2022 challenge. Increasing narrowbody aircraft production on the A220 and A320 lines proved more difficult than envisioned for the European OEM.

The war in Ukraine, which led to sanctions and higher energy bills, compounded the challenges for Airbus and its supply chain. Among the suppliers behind delivery schedules, engine manufacturers received the most attention earlier in the year. The situation has improved since then.

Airbus did not launch any new aircraft variants in 2022. While the A321XLR flight campaign started in June 2022, the program has accumulated a six-month delay. Entry into service is now planned for 2Q2024 instead of 4Q2023. The delays are caused mainly by the certification of the new rear center fuel tank into the fuselage.

Despite a production line full for several years, Airbus continued accumulating healthy numbers of A320neo orders, including from Chinese carriers. The cancellation of AirAsia X's A330neo order improved the family's order book quality. Net orders for the A350 family, including the freighter variant, have been muted but should pick up as long-haul traffic recovers. Airbus' low point has been the ongoing court battle with Qatar Airways on the A350 paint issue, leading to the cancellation of the carrier's order book.

Last but not least, Airbus announced many ecoAviation and sustainability initiatives throughout the year, culminating at its Annual Summit Nov. 30-Dec. 1.

Will 2023 be more of the same for the European OEM?

  • Behind-schedule ramp-up on both single-aisle lines;
  • New orders will determine the pace of the twin-aisle ramp-up;
  • Avoiding further A321XLR certification delays;
  • Robust cash flows allow sizable R&D spend on ecoAviation;
  • No new product development and more A330neo orders?

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