October 10, 2014 / 3:18 PM / in 3 years

Airbus says now not the time to announce production increases

Airbus Group staff member walk on the tarmac near an aircraft hangar during the first flight event of the Airbus A320neo (New Engine Option) in Colomiers near Toulouse, southwestern France, September 25, 2014.Regis Duvignau

BERLIN (Reuters) - The head of planemaker Airbus (AIR.PA) said on Friday there was enough demand in the market to justify increasing jetliner production, but now was not the right time to commit to a higher rate.

Boeing (BA.N) this month announced plans to increase output of its top-selling 737 jetliner to 52 aircraft a month by 2018 from the current monthly rate of 42. The move supersedes a previous goal of raising output to 47 a month by 2017.

Asked whether Airbus planned to match its U.S. rival by adding to its own production goal of 46 A320-family aircraft a month by 2016, compared with 42 a month now, Fabrice Bregier said, "We have a slightly different strategy but the same vision: the market requires a rate increase."

Bregier, who is chief executive of the main planemaking subsidiary of Airbus Group, added: "We announce a rate increase when we know that our backlog is strong enough to do it. We will continue, we will go through this transition to the A320neo. If we can sell more aircraft we will be pleased to do that but it is not the time for us to announce additional rate increases."

He was speaking to reporters in Berlin after signing a framework deal to sell 70 A320-family jets to China.

Reporting by Victoria Bryan; Writing by Tim Hepher

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