Airbus is considering increasing production of its medium-haul single-aisle A320 family of aircraft by nearly a third from current levels within three years to meet the strong demand, a senior executive said Thursday.
Airbus's chief operating and commercial officer, John Leahy, said there was sufficient demand to justify raising production to 63 of the aircraft per month, up from 42 currently.
Medium-haul aircraft are the workhorses of the airline industry, and Airbus is offering from next year a remotorised A320neo promising at least 15 percent fuel savings that has led its order book for that class to swell to 5,144.
Airbus operations director Tom Williams said 2018 was a reasonable target to raise output to over 60 per month, but not before.
Airbus is expected to begin production in its first factory in the United States, in Mobile, Alabama, over the summer. The facility will turn out four A320s per month, helping raise production 50 per month in 2017.
Airbus's factory in Hamburg, Germany will be turning out 25 per month, the one in Toulouse, France 17 per month and a facility in Tainjin, China four per month.
Leahy said a decision on stepping up production to 60 aircraft or more per month should be taken by the end of this year.
An A320neo equipped with LEAP motors from US-French joint venture CFM International made a first test flight earlier this month.
A test flight with Pratt & Whitney engines is scheduled for September.
Airbus plans to start delivering the A320neos to clients next year.