Airbus to juggle jet production, defends poor-selling A380
By Tim Hepher and Cyril Altmeyer
TOULOUSE, France (Reuters) - Airbus edged closer toward raising production of its best-selling model on Tuesday, declaring the supply chain stable and hinting at a decision to produce more of its A320 cash cow in coming months.
But it also conceded it may have to reduce production of its wide-body A330 further than previously anticipated, amid waning demand for the current version of the jet which faces competition from Boeing's newer 787 Dreamliner.
The European planemaker is having to adapt to different levels of demand for its most cash-generating jets after beating Boeing in new commercial orders last year, while remaining behind on deliveries.
Fabrice Bregier, chief executive of the main planemaking unit of Airbus Group, said both decisions would be taken in the next few months.
Speaking at an annual news conference, he also defended the double-decker A380, whose future has been left uncertain by a recent dearth of new airline orders.
"The best days of the A380 are ahead," Bregier said, pointing to increases in traffic that Airbus says would require the world's largest airliner. Boeing says airlines prefer smaller twin-engined jets that are easier to fill.
Underscoring the more somber economic mood which has caught up with a jet launched in 2000, Bregier said the A380 was "not an icon" and any decision about its future would be taken on business grounds.
But officials said there was no serious discussion of cancelling the A380 despite offguard remarks from the company's finance director in December. Continued...