PARIS 2009: Airbus says stable deliveries crucial to supply chain

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Airbus has reiterated its intention to maintain production levels through the current downturn, saying that stable, high output is key to the health of the industry's entire supply chain.

"People question how can it be that we and our competitor are still running production very high," said Airbus chief executive Tom Enders, speaking during the Paris Air Show.

"We have customers who want the aircraft, and we can help customers with financing on a selective basis."

Airbus expects to provide "not more than" €1 billion in customer financing, he adds.

Enders says it is important that Airbus focuses on "keeping stable to avoid big ruptures" in its workforce. Airbus delivered a record 483 aircraft last year and, although it has arrested its ramp-up, is on course to deliver a similar number this year.

"The whole supply chain depends on us, and when we talk about high production rates we should not forget that the best support we can give our suppliers is to have a relatively high, stable, delivery stream," says Enders.

However Airbus chief operating officer Fabrice Bregier admits that the airframer needs to convince its suppliers that it has adjusted production rates sufficiently, based on its evaluation of customer delivery requirements.

"We consider we have better visibility than our suppliers," he says. "We don't want to build whitetails. So we are giving the suppliers on the quality of our backlog and I think we can convince them during the show that we are the [appropriate] rates."

Should Airbus have to cut rates, the way it will manage its workforce adjustments will vary country by country owing to differing social rules, says Bregier: "We have more flexibility for example in Germany than in Spain, but we have other commercial solutions.

"If necessary we will reduce the interim workforce and if the crisis is deeper then we will use other soft social measures like short-time [working] to keep all our skilled resources ready for the ramp-up."

However Bregier points out that the situation is "contrasted" across Airbus' various plants, as for example the newly-created divisions Aerolia in France and Premium Aerotec in Germany "are recruiting massively" engineers in support of the A350 programme.