LE BOURGET, FranceAirbus is looking at increasing production rates for the A350 beyond the current goal of 10 aircraft per month.

Following first delivery to Qatar Airways at the end of 2014, Airbus is due to deliver 15 A350s this year, and Klaus Richter, Airbus Executive Vice President-Procurement, says that “we will achieve that.” The effort to get to a rate of 15 per month will be “substantial,” though. Airbus expects to deliver 60 aircraft in 2016, an average rate of five aircraft per month. The manufacturer has always targeted to be at ten aircraft per month four years after entry-into-service, which would put that milestone at the end of 2018.

However, Chief Operating Officer-Customers John Leahy has made clear internally and publicly that he would like to have more aircraft available for sale as soon as possible. Richter says further ramp-up will almost automatically be achieved with the advent of the A350-1000. Airbus is looking at a rate of 13 aircraft per month after 2018. That includes nine A350-900s and four A350-1000s.

Further production increases in the A350 program and the planned ramp-up for the A320 would require investment in factories. If Airbus was to decide to go beyond 50 aircraft per month for the A320 family, as anticipated, the Hamburg-Finkenwerder plant would have to add a fourth final-assembly line. Hamburg is currently at 22 aircraft per month, half of which are A321s, and is going up to 25 until 2017. A321 production is moving from around 12.5 aircraft per month to around 20 with the step to the overall rate of 50 to accommodate the demand increase as well as the move to larger aircraft. 

The first aircraft to be produced at the new final-assembly line in Mobile, Alabama will also be an A321 for JetBlue Airways.