Airbus is taking an initial look at the requirements for increasing A320 production to an extraordinary 50 aircraft per month, as it forecasts a strong increase in demand for single-aisle jets over the next 20 years.
The airframer's latest global market outlook, covering the period from 2011 to 2030, raised the new-build single-aisle demand by 7% - meaning its A320neo family will be battling for a share of 19,165 deliveries over the next two decades.
Speaking as the manufacturer disclosed the figures, the European airframer's chief operating officer for customers John Leahy said the airframer had already committed to increasing production to 42 per month, and was "studying" a further rise to 44.
He said the company was confident about reaching a decision on such an increase "in the not-too-distant future".
He added that Airbus was taking a preliminary look at what might be involved in pushing the rate up to 50. Airbus had an A320 backlog of 3,132 at the end of August.
Engine manufacturers would probably be able to cope with the higher rate, Leahy said, adding: "It tends to be some of the smaller suppliers that get you into trouble."
Rival US airframer Boeing, which is developing its re-engined 737 Max to counter the A320neo, previously forecast a 10% increase in demand for single-aisle aircraft - to 23,370 - in its own 2011-30 outlook, released in June.
Airbus, however, predicted single-aisle demand would account for 71% of deliveries and 43% of the overall $3.2 trillion passenger jet market. Its forecast raises the overall 20-year new-build demand by 2,000 aircraft to 27,848 - of which 26,921 are passenger aircraft.
The forecast more than doubles the global fleet, from Airbus's 2011 estimate of 15,000 aircraft to over 31,400 by 2030.
Airbus, which focused heavily on the passenger sector in its outlook, also predicted a strong increase in twin-aisle demand, raising its forecast by 11% to 6,425 airframes.
Leahy pointed out that slots for its A350 were becoming scarce, stating that none were available until around 2018-19.
But Airbus kept its forecast in the large-capacity sector - that served by the A380 - essentially static, at 1,331 passenger jets - although this estimate is still more than double the figure of 570 expected by Boeing.