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UPDATE 1-Airbus revives plan for new single-aisle jet plant in Toulouse

Wed 12th May, 2021 8:41am
(Adds detail)
    By Tim Hepher
    PARIS, May 12 (Reuters) - Airbus  AIR.PA  has revived plans
for a new production line for its A321neo jet in Toulouse,
France, as it reshapes production of the medium-haul
single-aisle jets that it hopes will lead its factories out of
the coronavirus crisis.
    The European planemaker said on Wednesday the new line, to
be installed in the deserted assembly hall where it once built
the now-abandoned A380 superjumbo, would open by end-2022.
    Airbus decided in 2019 to halt output of the world's largest
jetliner and the last A380 rolled out in March, leaving the
world's second-largest industrial building in limbo.
    Airbus plans to use at least part of the Jean-Luc Lagardere
building to add a new line with state-of-the art facilities to
meet demand for the smaller A321neo, which has seen a rise in
demand to represent more than half of its single-aisle backlog.
    That will replace one of the original lines used for the
A320, a slightly smaller and earlier model, in Toulouse.
    Airbus suspended similar plans in April last year when the
outbreak of COVID-19 forced it to cut global production,
angering French unions who called for the plan to stay intact.
    The new U-turn comes as Airbus tells suppliers to be ready
for a further recovery in single-aisle output to 53 jets a month
by end-2022, first reported by Reuters on Tuesday.*:nL1N2MY0TS
    Toulouse, where Airbus is headquartered, is one of four
sites used worldwide to assemble its single-aisle planes.
    Currently only its lines in Hamburg, Germany, and Mobile in
Alabama are equipped to make the A321neo, which has a dominant
share of sales against large versions of Boeing's 737 MAX.
    The new Toulouse facility will also be able to handle
production of the A320neo sister model, whose sales are more
balanced against the competing Boeing  BA.N  737 MAX 8. 
    The two planemakers have clashed over where the centre of
the market is for such types of planes, but are increasingly
involved in a contest over production strategy as they seek to
deliver on bulging order books for single-aisle aircraft.
    Airbus said it aimed to return to pre-crisis single-aisle
production between 2023 and 2025. Before the pandemic, its
factories were running at a record 60 single-aisles a month.
    Jefferies analyst Sandy Morris said Airbus could regain
output of 57 jets a month in 2024.     

 (Reporting by Tim Hepher; Editing by Jason Neely and Alexander
 ((; +33 1 49 49 54 52; Reuters
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