Air­bus re­lies on cur­rent A320 model to meet de­liv­ery goal

Arab News - - BUSI­NESS & ECON­OMY -

HAMBURG: Air­bus is stick­ing to 2016 de­liv­ery tar­gets de­spite a slow start caused by sup­plier prob­lems, but is hav­ing to fall back on an older ver­sion of its best-sell­ing jet to make up for de­lays in the A320­neo, ex­ec­u­tives said.

De­liv­er­ies fell 7 per­cent in the first quar­ter af­ter prob­lems at en­gine man­u­fac­turer Pratt & Whit­ney left about two dozen A320­neo jets with­out en­gines, cre­at­ing what its op­er­a­tions chief called on Mon­day a queue of “glid­ers.”

Europe’s largest aerospace group said it ex­pected an up­dated ver­sion of Pratt & Whit­ney’s en­gines to be ready in the sum­mer, al­low­ing it to com­plete the semi-fin­ished jets and ramp up de­liv­er­ies in the sec­ond half.

But it ac­knowl­edged it would have to de­liver fewer of the A320­neo jets than planned this year, as it brings for­ward ex­tra de­liv­er­ies of the ex­ist­ing ver­sion, known as ‘A320ceo’ (cur­rent en­gine op­tion), to plug the gap.

“We are us­ing the flex­i­bil­ity we have on ceos to off­set some of our chal­lenges on neos,” Chief Op­er­at­ing Of­fi­cer Tom Wil­liams told Reuters on the side­lines of an an­nual me­dia sem­i­nar.

Air­bus is tar­get­ing over 650 jet de­liv­er­ies in 2016, up 2.3 per­cent. The de­liv­er­ies ac­count for about 70 per­cent of Air­bus Group rev­enues.

Re­cent de­lays have dis­rupted the out­set of a twoyear changeover be­tween the cur­rent A320 and the re­vamped A320­neo: car­ried out even as Air­bus raises over­all nar­row­body jet pro­duc­tion to 60 a month by mid-2019 from 46 a month now.

De­liv­er­ies of the larger A350 long-haul jet have also been de­layed, mainly by short­ages of cabin equip­ment.

“2016 is the start of a very chal­leng­ing pe­riod,” pro­grams chief Di­dier Evrard said.

Ex­ec­u­tives said Air­bus ex­pected to meet its tar­get of de­liv­er­ing at least 50 A350s in 2016, com­pared with 9 since Jan­uary. It plans to raise out­put to 10 a month by 2018.

More than 40 of the jets are on the assem­bly line.

“The air­frames are there; now it is a race against the clock for the cab­ins and to fi­nal­ize assem­bly,” Chief Pro­cure­ment Of­fi­cer Klaus Richter said.

But with Air­bus still deal­ing with the un­ex­pect­edly slow start to the year, op­er­a­tions chief Wil­liams damp­ened ex­pec­ta­tions it could raise its out­put tar­gets even fur­ther, as sug­gested by its bullish sales chief John Leahy.

He told jour­nal­ists that cur­rent plans were “enough for now” and there were no se­ri­ous studies of go­ing higher.

Leahy has called for more A350s to open the door to in­creased sales and has sug­gested the mar­ket would sup­port in­creas­ing A320 out­put as high as 63 a month.

Aerospace an­a­lysts have, how­ever, ex­pressed con­cerns that an ex­tended boom in jet­liner de­mand is fad­ing due to con­cerns over growth in emerg­ing mar­kets and rel­a­tively low oil prices.

Wil­liams said there had ini­tially been some prob­lems de­liv­er­ing A350 sec­tions to the assem­bly line at the right qual­ity, but there had been no re­peat of wiring dif­fi­cul­ties that crip­pled out­put of the larger A380 su­per­jumbo in 2006.

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