Forecast International is questioning whether component suppliers will manage to keep up with the demand from Airbus and Boeing as they prepare to raise production rates of commercial airliners over the next 10 years.
Competition between Airbus and Boeing
Airline demands for range and payload characteristics better tailored to their specific needs have prompted a shift in how Boeing approaches optimization of the various airplanes within a given family.
Airbus plans to start building a new A320-family assembly plant in Mobile, Ala., next summer, the European airframer confirmed today, marking yet another expansion of its narrowbody production ambitions. Scheduled for completion at the beginning of 2016, the plant will produce between 40 and 50 A319s, A320s and A321s annually and employ 1,000, estimates Airbus.
The World Trade Organization’s Appellate Body issued a ruling today that Airbus characterized as a “sweeping loss” for Boeing in the long-running dispute between the U.S. and EU over illegal government subsidies to their respective largest aerospace companies.
Airbus and Boeing each finished 2011 with some robust order figures by any standard, but during a time of a tediously slow recovery from economic recession, last year’s figures proved all the more impressive. Still, if one were inclined to view the companies’ respective performances as a race to market share, Airbus appeared to emerge as the clear winner, at least in terms of total unit sales.
The antagonists in the long-running trade dispute over government subsidies to Boeing and Airbus are awaiting World Trade Organization (WTO) comment on the latest U.S. call for sanctions against the European Union.
American Airlines last week revealed its choice of the Airbus A319 and A321 as part of its A320 family fleet order announced in July 2011. Plans call for the A319s to come equipped with CFM56-5B engines, while IAE V-2500-A5s power the A321.
Building on a strong upturn in global airline traffic, Airbus is ramping up production of all its models–A320 family, A330 and A380–while keeping a careful eye on possible supply chain issues that could hit increased output rates for these models and also for the new A350 XWB widebody. Meanwhile, costs and an uncompetitive euro-dollar exchange continue to give headaches to the European airframer’s top management.
The World Trade Organization (WTO) has rejected much of Airbus’s July 2010 appeal against its ruling that the European airframer has unfairly benefitted from subsidies, but its May 18 judgment still leaves plenty of scope for the protagonists to argue over how it gets interpreted.
Some sort of negotiated settlement would appear the best outcome for which either protagonist can hope in the interminable dispute between Airbus and Boeing over alleged subsidies for airliner developments that is supposedly being resolved by the World Trade Organization (WTO).