Airbus and Boeing have begun sounding out suppliers on their ability to cope with further increases in production of their most popular jets, taking combined output well above 80 a month within four to five years.
Three senior industry sources told Reuters consultations had started on a historic upswing which could see Airbus producing as many as 44 A320 single-aisle planes by 2014 or 2015 and its rival simultaneously rising to as many as 42 737s a month.
Despite a sluggish U.S. economy and a debt crisis in Europe, demand for narrow-body jets is increasing as financial leasing companies and banks bet on a recovery in aviation and Asian airlines expand to tap the region’s transport growth, Reuters reports.
“Going to 42 or 44 is something people are being asked about. It is a discussion we are having,” said a top executive at a supplier to both leading planemakers.
Another said Airbus and Boeing were exploring whether to create new production slots for these models, which are sold out until 2015. The aim is to catch hold of a stronger-than-expected recovery and gain the flexibility to counter new competition.
Airbus is about to increase output of A320-family jets to 36 and has targeted 40 planes a month in 2012.
Boeing said in September it would boost 737 production to 38 a month in the second quarter of 2013.
Both planemakers declined to comment on contacts with suppliers or discuss any plans beyond those already announced.