Airbus is set for the first big ramp-up in production next year since its cutbacks after 11 September 2001, with a hike of at least 20% in A320 family output approved.
The manufacturer will have its fourth flat year in output this year, delivering 300-305 aircraft, but Airbus chief executive Noel Forgeard says it is preparing to boost production as the industry recovery gets under way. "The market is improving, despite high fuel prices and the threat of terrorism, and the airline industry is clearly picking up," he says. "We have already decided a 20% increase in our single aisle production rate for some time next year, with a possible further increase before year-end."
Forgeard declines to be specific on the timings or the numbers involved, but based on current levels, the planned 20% boost would equate to a rate increase of a little over three units a month to about 22 aircraft.
Airbus chief commercial officer John Leahy says the A320 family's 2005 production is already sold out at the current output level, with the need to increase rates being driven mainly by demand for the smaller models. "A319s and A320s are dominant...the A321 less so," he adds.
MAX KINGSLEY-JONES / TOULOUSE
Source: Flight International