Airbus ‘hits targets’ as recovery gathers pace

Since the start of the pandemic the workforce at the Airbus wing-making plant near Chester has been slashed by a third to 4,000 but the company is showing signs of a strong rebound. Tony McDonough reports

A350 XWB wing assembly at Airbus’ Broughton, UK facility
Airbus makes wings for its aircraft at Broughton in Deeside


Planemaker Airbus has hit its targets for delivery of new aircraft in 2021, according to media reports, in a boost for 4,000 workers at its factory near Chester.

Specialist website Hamburg Finkenwerder News and Reuters are both reporting that Airbus has surpassed its target of 600 jet deliveries for 2021, although the totals are not yet fully audited. Airbus has declined to comment on the reports.

In May 2020, as the full force of the global pandemic was starting to be felt by the aviation sector, Airbus chief executive, Guillaume Faury told executives at the business that it was facing a fight for its survival.

At that time around two-thirds of the global commercial airliner fleet was grounded and airlines had little appetite for buying new aircraft. In a presentation to senior staff Mr Faury said that “radical”, “proactive” and urgent steps were needed.

At that time the giant Airbus wing-making plant at Broughton on Deeside, which employs many people living in the Liverpool city region, employed around 6,000 people. And the remedy was indeed radical with the workforce at the plant having since been slashed by a third to 4,000.

However, despite the ongoing certainty over the pandemic, and in particular the omicron variant, airlines such as Ryanair, easyJet and Lufthansa, which has announced a new hub link from Liverpool Airport, are bullish about their prospects post-COVID.

According to the latest reports, Airbus saw a “flurry” of last-minute activity for A350 wide-bodied jets. That brought December’s total for the long-haul jets to about a dozen, though almost half of those have yet to enter operational service, according to Flightradar24 tracking data.

Reuters said Airbus deliveries frequently surge in the final month of the year, but supply chain problems have hampered deliveries of some medium-haul jets. Airbus raised the outlook for jet deliveries to 600 from a previous target of at least 566 in July after posting better than expected half-year results.

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