Airbus is confident that it will be able to maintain A330 monthly production at six aircraft, and even indicates that the rate cut might have been premature.
The airframer secured commitments for 24 A330s during the Paris air show, comprising 20 from Saudia – which will be leased from Middle Eastern lessor IAFC – and four from Taiwan’s Eva Air.
Airbus has been trying to attract sufficient A330 orders to bridge a transition period to the arrival of the A330neo in late 2017.
But it has been forced to trim monthly production to six from the first quarter of 2016.
Airbus chief executive Fabrice Bregier, speaking during the Paris show, said that business for 2016 was “almost done”, adding that the airframer had “just a handful [of A330s] missing” from its backlog to reach its planned targets.
While the company has had to "face reality" over A330 demand as it moves to the A330neo, Bregier says: "We think we can sustain 'rate six'."
Bregier even suggests that Airbus perhaps should “not have reduced so much” its planned production.
But while the airframer has “some flexibility” to adjust its rate, the freedom is only marginal, he adds: “You can’t to move [back up] to ‘rate eight’ just like that.”
Airbus had 313 A330s in its backlog at the end of May, of which 168 were current variants. The remaining 145 are A330neos.