European planemaker Airbus is considering stepping up production of its medium-haul A320 passenger aircraft by 16 percent within two years, labour union representatives said Monday.
Airbus officials indicated to union representatives at a meeting that it may increase production of its civil aviation workhorse to 44 per month from 38 currently.
"The management confirmed to us that a decision will be taken by the end of the year," said one union representative.
Airbus, a unit of European aerospace giant EADS, had already decided in May to increase monthly output of the A320 to 42 by the end of 2012.
The Airbus plant in Hamburg, Germany will produce 26 of the aircraft each month, 14 will be made in Toulouse and four at Airbus' only assembly plant outside Europe in the northern Chinese city of Tianjin.
Airbus officials said the meeting was an only opportunity to review the outlook with labour unions and that no decisions had been taken.
Union representatives said that Airbus chief Tom Enders was on the alert for signs a possible credit crunch that might affect orders by airlines, but did not call into question the company's forecasts
Airbus predicted in a key report earlier this month that almost 27,800 passenger and cargo aircraft would be sold for a total of $3.5 trillion (2.6 trillion euros) between 2011 and 2030.
With a strong order book for a more fuel-efficient A320neo that is to roll off the lines beginning in 2016, the company is looking to have to step up to 50 aircraft a month.
Union representatives said the management was not considering opening a facility in the United States as expanding production at existing facilities would require little investment.
by Nasir Jaffry
(c) 2011 AFP
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