Airbus says it will meet plane delivery targets despite delays

Slow output of A350 and A320 jets has raised questions over delivery commitments

Plans to deliver more A350s  and A320-family planes presents “very large challenges”, Airbus has said. Photograph: iStock

Plans to deliver more A350s and A320-family planes presents “very large challenges”, Airbus has said. Photograph: iStock

 

The plane making arm of Airbus is sticking to targets for deliveries of its new A320neo and A350 jets in 2016, despite a slow start to the year caused mainly by disruptions in the supplies of engines and cabin equipment.

But plans to deliver more than 50 A350s this year, and to sharply increase A320-family output while performing a model switch to the latest A320neo version, are “very large challenges”, chief operating officer Tom Williams said.

Airbus delivered 14 A350s in 2015, the first full year of production for the new long-range jet.

It plans to produce 10 A350s a month by 2018 but will already need to be running at that rate at some of its fuselage section plants by the end of this year, due to long lead times.

“My sense of this is that we are in a good direction,” Williams told an annual media briefing.

A slow pace for deliveries of A350 and A320 jets has raised questions over whether Airbus can meet a target of more than 650 total deliveries this year.

Airbus delivered six A350s between January and April, compared with a target of more than 50 for 2016. Deliveries have mainly been disrupted by missing cabin equipment.

Cathay Pacific said on Twitter it had received its first A350 at the weekend, following delays which industry sources have linked to problems with supplies of equipment from Zodiac Aerospace.

Zodiac, which has been wrestling for the past year with problems at its seat factories, has not commented on individual airlines.

Over 40 A350s are in various stages of assembly at Airbus’s Final Assembly Line (FAL) in Toulouse, France.

“The airframes are there; now it is a race against the clock for the cabins and to finalise assembly,” chief procurement officer Klaus Richter said.

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 which crippled output of the larger A380 superjumbo in 2006.

The future of that programme remains uncertain as demand for large four-engine jets slows, forcing Airbus to cut production.

Williams said Airbus was cutting A380 costs to maintain it at breakeven partly by redeploying some of its overheads to the expanding A320 programme

- Reuters

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