Airbus CFO says A350 plane production increase not tied to Boeing troubles

Earnings

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An Airbus employee works on an aircraft part of the Airbus A350 at the Airbus Atlantic plant in Bouguenais, near Nantes, western France, on Feb. 29, 2024.
Sebastien Salom-gomis | Afp | Getty Images

Airbus is ramping up production of its A350 aircraft because of consumer demand and not the ongoing crisis at U.S. rival Boeing, according to the French plane maker’s chief financial officer.

Toulouse-based Airbus on Thursday announced plans to increase its production rate for the long-range aircraft to 12 units per month in 2028. 

“I would say it’s clearly a reflection of the very strong commercial momentum that we see for the A350,” Airbus Chief Financial Officer Thomas Toepfer told CNBC’s Charlotte Reed on Thursday, when asked if the company was benefiting from the instability at Boeing.

Airbus reported gross commercial aircraft orders of 170 in the quarter, almost half of which were variants of the A350.

“So [we experience] very, very strong order intake,” Toepfer said, adding he anticipates that momentum will continue.

Aviation firms globally say they are facing supply chain and production issues and contend they are struggling to meet red-hot demand from airlines for new planes quickly. Airbus’ gross commercial aircraft orders jumped to 2,319 in full-year 2023, up from 1,078 in 2022.

Boeing has lowered output of its bestselling 737 Max, the model at the core of its crisis after its involvement in two fatal crashes and a midflight incident in which a door plug blew out.

Toepfer said the supply chain environment had not improved in recent months and remained “broad-based” across materials, which complicates Airbus’ efforts to increase production.

He reiterated his comment that the issues at Boeing are not helpful for the industry generally or for Airbus specifically.

“It is putting additional pressure and repercussions in the supply chain and to some individual suppliers, and that is also what we are feeling,” he said. “That it is not helpful for the ramp-up of the entire industry and also Airbus.”

Toepfer said Airbus has had “very constructive discussions” about making efficiencies with manufacturer Spirit, which is engaged in takeover talks with Boeing amid cash flow challenges. Spirit supplies both plane makers.

“We are also potentially contemplating the takeover of the work packages that Spirit is producing for Airbus, because they’re very important for us, and the highest priority for us is of course to make sure that the supply of those work packages is secured,” he continued.

Airbus’ quarterly results missed analysts’ expectations on Thursday, reporting a 25% year-on-year decline in operating profit to 577 million euros, or $619 million, in the first quarter, according to Reuters. Boeing on Wednesday posted a quarterly loss of $355 million.

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