Airbus has placed plans to add a French assembly line for its A321neo ten weeks after the expansion was launched, as the coronavirus fallout spreads to its best-selling aircraft.
The move brings the start of a politically sensitive drive to chop investment and overheads as the pandemic reverses the last eight years of manufacturing growth for such single-aisle jets.
Airbus announced plans for an extra assembly line in January when its drawback was meeting record demand for the A321neo from its site in Hamburg, Germany, which has suffered production bottlenecks.
That will redeploy jobs warned by the imminent demise of the A380, the world’s largest jetliner whose popularity with airlines has plunged in favor of smaller models.
Though the plan remains on the table, its urgency has evaporated after Airbus this week declared a one-third cut in production of jets like the A321, sources stated.
That leaves a question mark hanging over its massive Lagardere A380 manufacturing plant in Toulouse, where the last superjumbo is due to leave the line in the coming months.
The step could rekindle debate over the balance of jobs between French and German plants at the firm, founded as a European consortium 51 years ago.