First A320neo to roll off Hamburg production line

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Airbus is intending to produce its first A320neo at the final assembly line in Hamburg, before opening production at other facilities.

The airframer disclosed the plan during the release of its latest 20-year global market forecast in London.

Single-aisle production is split between Toulouse, Hamburg and the Chinese plant at Tianjin, while there will also be a fourth assembly line established at Mobile, Alabama, in the USA.

But a spokesman for the airframer says the first examples of its re-engined A320neo will be rolled out at Hamburg before production starts in Toulouse.

The Tianjin line - which only manufactures A320-family aircraft for Chinese customers - will be the third to start building the type.

"I'd very much like to have more [A320neo] slots earlier," says chief operating officer for customers John Leahy.

He attributes the decision by Singaporean carrier SilkAir to opt for the rival Boeing 737 Max partly to a lack of production slots, having offered them to Philippine Airlines - which is taking 44 A321s and A321neos.

Airbus has just reached a new framework agreement to extend production at Tianjin for another 10 years from 2016. Leahy says the airframer has "made a commitment" to prolong work at the Chinese plant but is "still in the process of negotiating" to reach a final pact.

While Chinese manufacturer Comac is trying to break into the market with its C919 twinjet, Leahy says he "doesn't see it as a major threat" over the next 10 years.