The Airbus Industrie partners have resolved their differences over A318 launch costs after agreeing to allow any A319 production overspill to be transferred from Hamburg to Toulouse.

"All the issues have been resolved and there is a written industrial agreement which will enable the A318 to enter service in the last quarter of 2002," says Airbus president Noel Forgeard. "Some A319s will be assembled in Toulouse to balance the workshare," he adds.

Airbus divides its A320 family assembly lines between two partners: Aerospatiale in Toulouse and DaimlerChrysler Aerospace Airbus (Dasa) in Hamburg. The former is responsible for A320 assembly and the latter for the A319 and A321. Dasa was also recently allocated A318 assembly, a move which angered Aerospatiale as it was concerned that the new programme would incur higher development costs in relation to the return relative to the other partners.

Dasa says that the move will not affect its overall workshare and is aimed at boosting the total production rate of the A320 variants. Hamburg produces 11 A319/ A321s a month and is moving to a maximum capacity of 15 a month by mid-2000. By then Toulouse will produce seven A320s a month, when the overall rate will hit the planned record of 22 a month.

Dasa says that there is spare capacity at Aerospatiale in Toulouse if any additional production work for A318/A319/A321s is needed.

Moving A319 work to Toulouse is described by Forgeard as "a very good compromise which introduces flexibility" into the assembly system.

Although no decision has been taken on boosting the A320 family production rate further, sources suggest that an increase to 24 a month is being seriously considered. An increase to 26 a month is also being studied.

Source: Flight International