Paris: Airbus said the widebody aircraft market is set to experience similarly lengthy wait times as the workhorse single-aisle segment because airlines are rapidly stocking up on long-haul jets, while supply disruptions on equipment like seats limits output.
“We will most probably be in just as much of a supply crunch on the widebodies as we’re experiencing on single aisles,” Christian Scherer, Airbus’s chief commercial officer, said in an interview at IATA’s annual general meeting in Istanbul on Sunday. “The widebody market is very promising.”
The European planemaker is already sold out of its bestselling A321neo aircraft until 2029, and Scherer said the company will focus on offering its more expensive widebody models to “proven partnerships” rather than “chasing every opportunity that presents itself.”
Widebody aircraft are generally more complex to manufacture because they have more elaborate interiors, like fancier business-class seats and flexible layouts for elements like galleys. That means that any bottlenecks on parts can quickly become more pronounced.
Airbus has already announced an increase in output for its A350 model to six a month to help ease constraints and wants to lift that rate to nine a month by the end of 2025. The older A330neo will reach four monthly units by 2024. That compares with a targeted monthly production plan of 75 A320 family single-aisle jets.
Airlines seeking to capitalise on the surge in travel are snapping up planes out of fear of being relegated to the end of the line. Airbus has been slower than expected in handing over aircraft because of supply bottlenecks and was forced to downgrade its delivery target twice last year. In 2023, Airbus aims to delivery 720 jets, mainly from the A320 family.
On the smaller A220 program, Scherer said the company is evaluating engine options. For now, the aircraft comes exclusively with Pratt & Whitney’s GTF powerplant, which has experienced reliability issues. While Scherer said Airbus won’t announce a stretched version of the plane - dubbed the A220-500 - at the Paris Air Show in a few weeks, its studying options for the variant, including more powerful engines.
Airbus’s larger A320 family comes with a choice of engines: either a version of the GTF model or the LEAP by a General Electric Co.-Safran SA venture.