In 2019, Airbus became the largest aircraft producer, overtaking Boeing as the USA based manufacturer struggled to gather confidence of airliners, investors and customers after the MAX debacle. While the FAA has not yet given any date for recertification of the 737 MAX, Airbus is certainly looking to build on the momentum they gathered last year, adding another production line for its A320neo series aircraft at Toulouse Headquarters. Reports suggest that this new production line shall be used to build the A321neo aircraft, the stretched version of the A320neo.
As of now, Airbus builds 60 A320 series aircraft in a month at production sites in Toulouse, Hamburg, Tianjin in China and Mobile in the USA. However, given the fact that the 737 MAX is grounded since March 2019, the market now is left with only one single aisle short and medium haul aircraft that is airworthy, which is the A320neo series aircraft. With the new production line, Airbus is aiming for upto 63 A320neo series aircraft in a month, with plans to produce more down the line.
Airbus A320 production line in Hamburg. Image Credits: Airbus.
Experts suggest that the 737MAX will not be certified to fly until the end of first half of the year; and even after it is certified to take to the skies, skepticism surrounding the dented reputation of the aircraft shall as well go against Boeing’s favour. In the mean while, this is a golden opportunity for Airbus to sell a multitude of A320neo series aircraft.
The new production line will replace the A380 facility at Toulouse which is being shut down this month (January 2020), as announced by Airbus last year. It is also understood that a critical reason behind the construction of new production facility is to create extra capacity while the company tries to solve construction problems with its ‘cabin flex’ version of the A320neo series aircraft, which allows the fuselage to be modified and enlarged from the standard aircraft. However, the modifications have proved complex and resulted in delays.
According to Robert Stallard, analyst at Vertical Research Partners:
‘Extra capacity at Toulouse will allow Airbus to help meet demand while it works through problems with the capacity cabin flex’
With an aggressive roadmap and favourable market conditions, Airbus certainly looks strong to capture a gargantuan market for the A320neo series aircraft!