[HAMBURG] The planemaking arm of Airbus Group is sticking to targets for deliveries of A320neo and A350 jets in 2016, despite a slow start to the year due to a disruption in supplies of engines and cabin equipment.
The European company is expected to outline to media at briefings in Hamburg on Monday how it plans to recover momentum in the second half and then ramp up production further in 2017.
It is in the midst of increasing production for the long-haul A350 to meet a target of 10 a month by 2018 and is changing to a new version of the medium-haul A320 while increasing overall narrowbody production.
A slow pace for deliveries of both jets have raised questions over whether Airbus can meet a target of more than 650 total deliveries this year, implying a sharp upswing from the summer.
Airbus delivered six A350s between January and April, compared with a target of more than 50 for 2016. Deliveries of that model have been mainly disrupted by missing cabin equipment.
Cathay Pacific said on Twitter it had received its first jet at the weekend, following delays which industry sources blame on problems with supplies of equipment from Zodiac Aerospace. Zodiac, which has been wrestling with problems at its seat factories, has not commented specifically on Cathay.
Around 40 A350s are in various stages of assembly at the Final Assembly Line (FAL) in Toulouse, France, executives say. "The number indicates on the one hand that it is very crowded in the FAL - but it is supposed to be - and it also shows you that there is a chance to deliver the end-year target," chief procurement officer Klaus Richter said. "The airframes are there; now it is a race against the clock for the cabins and to finalise assembly." Analysts say 2017 will be a crucial year in the ramp-up in output of the A350, which competes against the Boeing 787 and 777.
Deliveries of the smaller A320neo, a revamped version of Airbus' best-selling A320 narrowbody jet, have been delayed by gaps in engine supplies from Pratt & Whitney, causing a queue of parked jets waiting for their engines.
Richter, who is in charge of supply chains for Europe's largest aerospace group, said revised engines would be available in July and August, allowing deliveries to increase rapidly.