Airbus hints at A320 production hike

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Airbus is prepared to look at a possible production-rate increase for the A320 family after gaining confidence that it will achieve a smooth transition to the A320neo.

The airframer has been prioritising a transition to the re-engined aircraft at a rate of 42 aircraft per month, the current level of baseline A320 manufacture.

But chief operating officer for customers John Leahy says the market could easily support a delivery rate of 50.

Airbus chief executive Fabrice Bregier indicates that the rate could be pushed up in order to deal with the extensive single-aisle backlog.

“If we can ramp up more aggressively, we’ll do it,” he says. Airbus has been cautious about a rate increase, owing to supply-chain considerations ahead of the A320neo transition, but Bregier is confident that the industrial structure can support the expansion.

Airbus chief operating officer Gunter Butschek notes that the supply chain is “more stable and reliable”, adding that the airframer achieved record deliveries in 2013 with the same industrial set-up.

The manufacturer expects to conduct the first A320neo flight in the fourth quarter of this year, ahead of entry into service in the fourth quarter of 2015.

Airbus is also set to ramp up A350 production to 10 aircraft per month by the end of 2018, although Leahy says the market would “easily justify” a rate of 14.