Airbus lifts jet production plans as ‘aviation recovery begins’ – business live

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Airbus has told suppliers it is planning for record production of its bestselling planes within two years in a sign of the manufacturer’s hopes for a belated but strong recovery for aviation from the coronavirus pandemic.

The European manufacturer said on Thursday it would increase production of A320 single-aisle aircraft to 45 per month by October, up from 40.

However, it said suppliers should be ready for a rate of 64 per month by the spring of 2023 for the A320, which is well suited to short-haul travel that is expected to bounce back the quickest. That would beat its previous highest rate target of 63, and would be followed by 70 per month at the start of 2024 and as high as 75 by 2025.

The aerospace industry has endured months of weak demand for planes during the pandemic as airline customers cut back on orders as their revenues dried up. Airbus and its US rival, Boeing, together cut tens of thousands of jobs worldwide as demand plummeted. Demand for Boeing planes was hit further by the crisis over its previously top-selling 737 Max, which was grounded for over a year after two fatal crashes caused by malfunctions.

There is still confusion over when people across the world will be allowed to travel for tourism purposes. Airline and holiday firm bosses on Wednesday attacked the UK government’s “utterly confusing” advice on foreign travel.

However, aerospace analysts have long expected demand for air travel – alongside the sector’s carbon emissions – to overtake pre-pandemic levels rapidly once vaccines start to diminish the risks of the coronavirus. In the long term, the growth of the middle class in Asia and Africa is expected to continue the structural growth in flight number.

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Boris Johnson has been warned by business leaders that a fresh package of economic support would be required if rising Covid-19 infections prevent the further relaxation of pandemic restrictions next month, my colleague Richard Partington explains.

After the reopening of hospitality venues indoors across all four nations of the UK, the Guardian’s latest monthly assessment of economic developments suggests the country is on course for a short-term growth boom this summer.

Retail sales have surged above pre-pandemic levels, while customers returning to restaurants, pubs and cafes have driven a sharp rise in consumer spending to begin repairing the damage from the worst recession in 300 years.

However, concerns are mounting over the Covid variant first detected in India – B.1.617.2 – and the possibility that rising infections could delay the next phase of the government’s roadmap for relaxing controls in England.

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Top US and Chinese trade negotiators held “candid” talks today, their first under the Biden presidency, as Washington continues to raise concerns over Beijing’s trade practices.

In the long-awaited first official engagement between the US trade representative Katherine Tai and the Chinese vice-premier, Liu He, held virtually on Thursday morning Beijing time, the two sides emphasised the importance of the bilateral trade relations and agreed to further negotiations.

A statement from China’s commerce ministry said the US and China held “candid, pragmatic and constructive exchanges with an attitude of equality and mutual respect”.

In Washington, the office of the US trade representative said that Tai “discussed the guiding principles of the Biden-Harris administration’s worker-centred trade policy and her ongoing review of the US-China trade relationship, while also raising issues of concern.”

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