Airbus relies on current A320 model to meet delivery goal
By Tim Hepher
HAMBURG (Reuters) - Airbus (AIR.PA: Quote) is sticking to 2016 delivery targets despite a slow start caused by supplier problems, but is having to fall back on an older version of its best-selling jet to make up for delays in the A320neo, executives said.
Deliveries fell 7 percent in the first quarter after problems at engine manufacturer Pratt & Whitney (UTX.N: Quote) left about two dozen A320neo jets without engines, creating what its operations chief called on Monday a queue of "gliders".
Europe's largest aerospace group said it expected an updated version of Pratt & Whitney's engines to be ready in the summer, allowing it to complete the semi-finished jets and ramp up deliveries in the second half.
But it acknowledged it would have to deliver fewer of the A320neo jets than planned this year, as it brings forward extra deliveries of the existing version, known as 'A320ceo' (current engine option), to plug the gap.
"We are using the flexibility we have on ceos to offset some of our challenges on neos," Chief Operating Officer Tom Williams told Reuters on the sidelines of an annual media seminar.
Airbus is targeting over 650 jet deliveries in 2016, up 2.3 percent. The deliveries account for about 70 percent of Airbus Group (AIR.PA: Quote) revenues.
Recent delays have disrupted the outset of a two-year changeover between the current A320 and the revamped A320neo: carried out even as Airbus raises overall narrowbody jet production to 60 a month by mid-2019 from 46 a month now.
Deliveries of the larger A350 long-haul jet have also been delayed, mainly by shortages of cabin equipment. Continued...