PARIS: Airbus will start delivering narrow-body A320neo-family jets to Air India at the end of this year as part of a 250-plane order, the aircraft manufacturer’s chief commercial officer said.
The carrier’s huge aircraft acquisition will further expand as Air India additionally leases around 25 A320neo-family jets on the open market, he said in an interview.
“Those will come in before we can start delivering the A320s,” Airbus CCO Christian Scherer told Reuters.
That would bring the size of the total acquisition, which includes 220 Boeing jets, to 495 planes, 470 of which were announced as direct orders on Tuesday (Feb 14). Reuters reported last month Air India was poised to acquire a total of 495 planes.
The Airbus part of the direct order includes 34 A350-1000 aircraft and six smaller A350-900s originally destined for Russia’s sanctions-hit Aeroflot. It also includes 210 single-aisle planes spread between 140 A320neo and 70 A321neo.
Asked whether the deal supported Airbus plans for higher A350 production, Scherer said: “It is poised to grow for sure”.
Airbus said in October it would lift monthly A350 output to six units from five in early 2023 and then explore more.
Industry sources have said Airbus throttled back to 4.5 a month in late 2022 and is now producing 5.6, on its way to six a month in 2024, where it may stay through 2025, barring any changes with its full-year results on Thursday.
However, within that shallow overall increase, production of the Air India-backed A350-1000 variant – which currently stands at 1.2 jets a month – is due to increase to 1.8 a month in 2024, two in the first half of 2025 and three in the second half, the sources said.
Airbus declined comment on production of individual variants but Scherer said India’s 34 A350-1000 jets would be delivered starting in about two years “at a relatively good pace”.
Airbus said in October it is producing three of its A330neo jets a month. Industry sources said it plans to reach a rate of four a month in the second half of 2024, up from 2.8 a month now. It is said to be making seven A220s a month with a goal of 10 by end-year.
Sources cautioned production may be further reviewed when Airbus releases full-year results on Thursday. Scherer declined any comment on detailed output numbers ahead of those earnings. – Reuters