Airbus is raising the production rate of its narrowbody line. The company plans to increase output from the current 42 aircraft per month to 46 by the second quarter of 2016. That move is to be preceded by an interim step up from 42 to 44 in the first quarter of 2016.
The move has been expected after Airbus CEO Fabrice Bregier indicated in January that single aisle output has “upside potential.”
The decision follows a similar step by its competitor Boeing on the 737 line. It reverses the earlier stance that production of the A320 should not be increased before the transition from the current version of the aircraft to the A320neo. The reengined single aisles are to be introduced towards the end of 2015 and the first neo will fly by the end of this year.
Boeing plans to raise 737 production from 42 to 47 aircraft per month in 2017 and it is studying going up to 52 units by 2018 or 2019.
Airbus is also moving A320 production higher because it has sold all remaining A320ceo production slots and demand has not yet broken off.
Airbus Group Chief Strategy Officer Marwan Lahoud says that the company is “confident that the transition (from ceo to neo) can be managed at that level.” Given the strong demand for both the current and the new version, the decision to go up to 46 units is “quite natural.”
For 2014 Airbus plans to deliver around the same number of aircraft as in 2013 (626) and expects to take orders for more aircraft than it delivers. Group CEO Tom Enders says he does not dare to predict the exact number of orders: “I have always been very bad at that.”