Max Kingsley-Jones/HAMBURG

Airbus Deutschland has wrested final assembly of the A320 from its French partner with production set to move from Toulouse to Hamburg. No timetable has been revealed but the decision is bound to cause concern among unions at the French plant. Meanwhile, Hamburg is gearing up to boost narrowbody output to 20 aircraft a month.


After years of squabbling between the French and German Airbus partners, agreement has been reached to consolidate all single aisle production in Germany. The deal was struck as part of last year's agreement to allow final assembly of the 550-seat A380 to be undertaken by Airbus France in Toulouse rather than in Hamburg, but has never been revealed.

The A319 and A321 are produced in Hamburg, while the A320 is assembled in Toulouse. Hamburg produced its first narrowbody Airbus in 1992 after a long battle with the French to wrest control of some assembly work from Toulouse. All single aisle models, including A320s, already undergo interior installation at Hamburg.

"The French and German partners have agreed that A320 production will ultimately be transferred from Toulouse," says Arthur Blake, a member of Airbus Deutschland's product management single aisle team. Although there is an agreement for Hamburg to become the Airbus "centre of excellence" for single aisle production, Airbus says "no timetable" has been agreed for the transfer.

The Hamburg plant produces around 13 A319s and A321s a month, with a similar number of A320s being delivered from Toulouse. Blake says Hamburg's monthly output will increase to over 15 this year and reach 18 during 2002, by which time the plant will also be producing the 107-seat A318. "By the end of 2003, Hamburg's third final assembly line will have come on line, and Hamburg will be producing 20aircraft a month," says Blake.

Airbus expects A320 family production to reach 30 a month between the two assembly lines by the end of next year. Further increases are possible, but it will be sub-assembly production rate, rather than final assembly line capacity, which will dictate theultimate output level.

Although no timetable has been announced for the transfer of A320 production to Germany, observers see the next fall-off in single aisle production as the most likely scenario for the move, which will leave Toulouse producing all the Airbus widebody types.

Source: Flight International