The Supply Chain Matters blog provides our latest updates for our blog column- Global Supply Chain News Capsule Follow-Up. In our efforts to provide readers with the complete story, this capsule presents a series of brief blogs that revisit prior supply chain developments that we have shared with readers.

In prior Supply Chain Matters blog postings in September and October, we highlighted for our commercial aircraft supply network readers, candid remarks made by Airbus CEO Guillaume Faury indicating that while the global airline industry is showing signs of recovery, business travel remains muted, and the industry is unlikely to be back to pre-pandemic service volumes for years hence. The CEO specifically noted that even as aircraft demand recovers, supply chain challenges over the coming 12 to 18 months will be the most difficult challenges for this global commercial aircraft manufacturer.

Last week, Bloomberg and other industry media reported that Airbus has struggled with on-time delivery of new aircraft due to either component or skilled worker shortages. New aircraft deliveries were reported as 36 in October, and forty in both September and August. In order to meet an investor commitment to deliver a total of six hundred aircraft for all of 2021, aircraft deliveries will need to surpass 140 additional aircraft in November and December.

CEO Faury reportedly remains confident of the company’ ability to meet the annual delivery target but cautions that the aircraft industry suppliers are attempting to transition our of a “15-month hibernation.”

Noted in our ongoing commercial aircraft commentary is that Airbus recently communicated an aggressive plan to be able to ramp-monthly production of the company’s successful A320/A321 family of single aisle aircraft from a current constrained level of forty-five aircraft per month to a rate of sixty-five aircraft per month by the summer of 2023.

With the dramatic demand shock caused by the pandemic’s impact on monthly production needs, larger scale suppliers have managed to buffer some of the financial and worker loss impacts better than some others. As the ongoing product demand crisis has evolved, smaller, specialty suppliers, which provide the technology specialties, as well as their highly skilled workers, have especially struggled with the financial impacts of the sudden production and aircraft delivery suspensions.

While industry speculation is that Airbus will fare better than rival Boeing, restoring the financial and skill resource health of the industry’s supply networks remains a challenge, and both aircraft OEMs indicate they are rendering assistance where they can do so. However, the threat remains of supplier fallout or of a wave of industry consolidation in added merger and acquisition developments. There is obviously a lot riding on this industry’s ultimate return to post-pandemic health, but hard days remain.

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