Airbus has shelved plans to create a new assembly line for its A321 airliner, in the latest example of how the coronavirus crisis is crippling the aviation industry.

The aircraft maker had announced plans for the line at its Toulouse base in south-west France in January, when its chief concern was meeting record demand for the jet, which can carry more than 200 passengers on short- and medium-haul routes.

The move comes just a day after the budget airline easyJet said it was deferring delivery of 24 Airbus planes, as it attempted to placate a demand by its founder and largest shareholder, Stelios Haji-Ioannou, to cancel the orders.

It also follows Airbus stating on Wednesday that it would slash the number of planes it builds by a third, amid expectations that the coronavirus pandemic will continue wreaking havoc on global aviation long after travel restrictions are eased.

According to an estimate published by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) last month, industry passenger revenues could plummet by $252bn (£202bn) or 44% below 2019’s figure.

“Our plans for an A321 line in Toulouse are paused, on hold,” said an Airbus spokesman. “When we see rates going up again, we will reconnect to the plans.”

The Airbus chief executive, Guillaume Faury, told reporters this week the aircraft maker would “hibernate” new investments to save cash.

French unions said they would fight for the A321 plant.

“Unlike Guillaume Faury who wants to halt non-essential investment, we think the arrival of a new A321 line … factory must be maintained,” said the CGT union official Xavier Petrachi.

Just over a fortnight ago, as IATA unveiled its latest Covid-19 impact estimates, the trade body’s chief executive, Alexandre de Juniac, said: “The airline industry faces its gravest crisis. Within a matter of a few weeks, our previous worst-case scenario is looking better than our latest estimates.

“But without immediate government relief measures, there will not be an industry left standing. Airlines need $200bn in liquidity support simply to make it through. Some governments have already stepped forward, but many more need to follow suit.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You May Also Like

Season 12 finale – she’s a winner baby!

Caution: Spoilers ahead This has certainly been one of the most interesting and unique seasons of Drag Race ever. Not since the heady days of Willam proudly vomiting off the runway have we had such a memorable ride. The guest…

Drought in southern Africa means cricket must look hard in the mirror

Evan Flint has his feet up, at last. It is day four of the final Test between England and South Africa and, as chief groundsman, all he can do is watch as Rassie van der Dussen and Dean Elgar grind…

‘His gorgeous abstractions made you gawp with disbelief’

He changed cityscapes, landscapes, buildings, coastlines, lakes and islands, making us look afresh at our surroundings. At its most daring and spectacular, Christo’s work entered the collective consciousness, overturning our sense of scale and place in the world. At its…

Elon Musk tweets IN RUSSIAN to accept Roscosmos cooperation offer

“Thank you, sir, ha ha. We’re hoping for a mutually beneficial and prosperous long-term cooperation,” the tech billionaire wrote. The message came in response to Roscosmos boss Dmitry Rogozin’s tweet in which – in English – he congratulated his NASA…