Airbus is to cut production of the A330 series to 40 aircraft this year (3.33 per month), and will keep A350 monthly output to between 9 and 10 aircraft.
The decision is a consequence of “overall customer demand” in the twin-aisle sector, which is generally being described as softening and will continue to do so until around 2025-26.
Airbus CEO Guillaume Faury, said the “wanted to have a level of production reflecting demand moving forward”, and that the decision reflected Airbus’s understanding of the “capacity of the market”. A more obvious set of glib PR phrases would be hard to find.
Reduced long-haul aircraft demand has been reflected in Boeing’s plans to cut 787 monthly production from 14 aircraft to 10 in 2021. They attributed this to Chinese trade tensions (generated by the US Tariffs) and lower near-term replacement demand.
Airbus delivered 53 A330s in 2019, including 41 A330neo. But Faury said a “lot” of the A330 deliveries last year were aircraft originally produced in 2018, for which delivery was then delayed.
The Airbus CEO said he is “confident” that Airbus is planning for the “right level” of deliveries.
Airbus delivered 112 A350’s comprising 87 A359’s and 25 A35K’s – having achieved its target production rate of 10 aircraft per month.
Airbus increased overall A350 orders to 926 during 2019, with 32 new orders, but the backlog for the fell by 80 aircraft to 579. At the current rate with no new orders the production line could run until December 2024.
The backlog for the A330, increased by 36 aircraft to 331 by the end of 2019, of which 293 are A330neo’s. That gives a production run out to June 2028 at current levels.
All of the A330neo deliveries to date have involved the larger -900 variant. Certification of the -800 has only just been completed in the past week.