The European plane maker will increase production rates of the short-haul workhorse next year, throwing a lifeline to a battered industry

When it started flying in 1987, Airbus’ A320 seemed like a moonshot project from an upstart plane maker, with little chance of challenging the supremacy of the Boeing BA 2.97% 737 on short-haul flights. Skip to 2020, and it is one of the few products keeping the aviation industry afloat.

This week, Airbus reported positive cash flows for the third quarter as plane deliveries resumed. The European company shipped 145 commercial aircraft, compared with 28 for its U.S. rival Boeing. While the Airbus number was still down 20% from a year earlier, it is an impressive figure in a pandemic. Global air traffic remains stuck at half of 2019 levels, giving airlines little reason to take on planes.

The workhorse A320 family stands behind Airbus’ resilience. At this pace, it could amount to 63% of combined deliveries from both plane makers this year, compared with 39% in 2018—before the grounding of Boeing’s troubled 737 MAX. Airbus Chief Executive Guillaume Faury confirmed reports that A320 production rates will start to ramp up from 40 to 47 a month in the second half of next year.

Excerpt from WSJ
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