Airbus’s airliner deliveries rose to 72 examples last month, as customers accepted airplanes at an accelerated pace despite the persistent effects of Covid-19 on air travel. The European airframer also booked new orders for 28 airplanes, bringing its net order total to negative 61 for the year.
The company’s latest orders and deliveries report, issued Thursday, showed that Airbus shipped double the number of airplanes it delivered in March 2020, when Covid-19 began to prompt airlines to postpone deliveries in significant numbers. The March 2021 total consisted of four A220s, 60 A320-family jets, and eight A350s.
The faster delivery pace in March raised the first-quarter delivery total to 125 and resulted in the company shipping more airplanes during this year’s first quarter than it did in the same period in 2020, when it delivered 122.
While March figures also showed an improvement in order performance, the negative tally for the year continues to reflect suppressed demand; at the end of March 2020 the company had collected net orders for 290 airplanes.
Airbus in January said it would slow a planned increase in A320-family production rates as it reacts to further demand pressure created by the Covid-19 pandemic. The expected gradual increase from the current average rate of 40 A320s per month will now increase to just 43 per month in the third quarter and 45 in the fourth quarter, compared with the previously planned jump to 47 of the narrowbodies starting in July.
The company’s A220 monthly production rate will increase from four to five aircraft per month starting at the end of the first quarter as previously planned, while widebody output remains at current levels. Airbus also said it will postpone a potential increase for the A350 and maintain its five-per-month rate. A330 production will remain at two per month for the foreseeable future.