Airbus has decided to cut A330 production rates ahead of the transition from the current model to the A330neo.

The manufacturer will reduce monthly output to nine aircraft, from 10, in the fourth quarter of 2015, Airbus confirmed on Oct. 17. It had only raised production to 10 in 2013.

"Our role as an aircraft manufacturer is to anticipate and adapt our output to ensure we continue to maintain a smooth production flow for Airbus and for our supply chain," said Tom Williams, Airbus’s Executive Vice President Programs. "We are confident we will sustain a steady production towards the A330neo ramp-up period."

The production cut comes two years prior to the planned entry into service of the A330neo in the fourth quarter of 2017. By contrast, Airbus has decided to increase production of the A320 even as it has to manage the transition to the A320neo starting in late 2015; demand for the current model is still strong enough.

As for the current A330, Airbus has seen a slowing in demand since 2013, which raises the question of whether a reduction of one aircraft per month will be enough. Airbus currently has outstanding orders for 69 A330-200s and 154 A330-300s, equivalent to less than two years of production. But there are three years left until the A330neo comes online.

Airbus has to bet on large orders from China to materialize, but those appear to be pending the establishment of a completion center alongside its Tianjin A320 final assembly line. A letter of intent has recently been signed, but the final decision remains to be made.