Airbus may lift production of A320 narrow-body aircraft to as high as 63 monthly, prompting Boeing to boost its own production to match. That shift could open up opportunities for future expansion of Boeing’s new Chinese 737 completion plant.
Bernstein Research Group reported the anticipated Airbus increase Oct. 1, after an interview with Airbus CEO Tom Enders.
“We estimate this could be 63 per month before the end of the decade and that Boeing would likely respond with a similar move,” said the report.
Currently, Boeing is producing 42 of the 737s per, with plans to increase to 52 monthly by 2018.
Boeing is able to handle an increase of up to 63 monthly at its Renton facility, but any increase in the production schedule after that would mean expansion elsewhere, said Scott Hamilton, in a piece in Leeham News.
This raises the question of whether Boeing may eventually convert its planned 737 completion plant in China to full 737 assembly.
The planned completion plant in China will take some of the pressure off Boeing Renton, by adding interiors and paint to flyable 737s that come off the Renton assembly lines.
Airbus is responding to the 5,502 model A320s its customers have on order, an eight-year backlog the company is trying to work down so it can respond quickly to future orders.
Boeing’s backlog of 737s is substantially smaller at 4,243 jets, but the company may be forced to match Airbus’ production rates to get its own backlog down to invite new orders. Airlines don’t want to wait to get the planes they’ve ordered, so the company that can promise shorter wait-times could win future orders.
Airbus could raise the A320 production rate to 63 monthly; will Boeing follow?