Airbus SE plans to hire 6,000 new staff in the first part of the year, going some way toward restoring the European planemaker’s workforce following deep cuts during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The manufacturer will add positions worldwide and across its aerospace, helicopter and defense & space units, according to a statement on Wednesday. The firm will reassess further recruitment needs following the initial wave.

The hiring “will help us grow our activities as we come out of the crisis, while preparing the long-term transformation of the company,” said Thierry Baril, Airbus’s head of human resources.

The move indicates a growing sense of optimism at Airbus that the aviation industry may finally be emerging from the coronavirus crisis after several setbacks. The company is preparing to ramp up production of its flagship narrowbody A320 family aircraft, aiming to surpass pre-pandemic levels by the middle of next year.

The company scaled back aircraft programs by about a third in April 2020, triggering a wave of job cuts. Airbus has shed about 9,000 positions since 2019, according to company figures, meaning the workforce will still be leaner than before the coronavirus even after the new hiring push.

Airbus is striving to introduce a hydrogen-powered aircraft by 2035, and about a quarter of the new jobs will be focused on long-term projects such as decarbonization, digital transformation and cyber technology. A third of the total will be allocated to young graduates.