Airbus To Cut A330 Production To Support A350 Production

Airbus has decided to shift production resources away from the A330 program and instead focus on its A350 flagship program, as the latter has more orders and a bigger order backlog.

Getty a350
The Airbus A350 is set to get more attention at Airbus. Photo: Getty Images

What are the details?

Airbus has two major widebody aircraft programs: the Airbus A330 and the Airbus A350. Airbus also has an A380 program, however it is no longer accepting new orders and only has a few more to produce until it finishes. 

Of the two production lines, Airbus is producing:

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  • Two A350s – A350-900 and A350-1000
  • Three A330s – A330-200, A330-300 and A330neo-900. There is a design and orders for an A330neo-800 but that has yet to be certified and enter production.

Thus, Airbus has to carefully balance the difference in resources depending on various orders that each program has.

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As it stands, Airbus produces:

  • 10 Airbus A350s per month, with the ratio between A350-1000s and A350-900s depending on the orders
  • 4-5 Airbus A330s are produced per month, with the majority being of the new A330neo variety.

Looking at the number of orders in the backlog shows that the A350 is far more popular. According to figures published by Flight Global:

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  • 579 A350 orders are still unfulfilled, and many more airlines are ordering it every month.
  • 331 A330 orders are also awaiting to be made.

With the bigger order backlog following the A350 program, Airbus has decided to slow the A330 production and focus more on the (more lucrative) A350 product. Looking at the numbers, the typical A330 is worth around $250-300 million USD per unit, and the A350 is worth $300 million USD per unit.

Airbus, 2019, Deliveries
Airbus will be making less A330s in 2020  Photo: Getty Images

How will Airbus be cutting production?

Airbus will be reducing its overall target of A330 from 53 aircraft to 40, producing around 10-15 fewer aircraft.

Speaking to Flight Global, Airbus Chief executive Guillaume Faury said that Airbus “wanted to have a level of production reflecting demand moving forward” and would be a move to better match the demand of the market.

Technically these additional resources won’t be going directly to the A350 program, as that does not have a goal of additional deliveries over 10 per month. With the A380 program not needing additional help, there is only one other widebody production line to turn to, the A350.

Airbus Mobile factory
The widebody market is slowing down worldwide. Photo: Getty

Another reason that Airbus might be slowing production on the A330 production line is the fact that they only have 76 original A330 aircraft left to build before production focuses over to the A330neo. With fewer A330neo orders anticipated at this time (until the majority of A330 aircraft reach replacement time which you can read about here) perhaps moving resources away is a good move.

Plus with a widebody market slowdown (Boeing is reducing how many 787s they plan to deliver per year to compensate) perhaps Airbus is doing the same.

What do you think? Is this slowdown worth it? Let us know in the comments.

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Not sure what this paragraph is actually saying, “Technically these additional resources won’t be going directly to the A350 program, as that does not have a goal of additional deliveries over 10 per month. With the A380 program not needing additional help, there is only one other widebody production line to turn to, the A350.” I think what this is really saying is, subcontractors should expect to see cuts in their contracts. Maybe a few people will be moved over to the A350 production line, but the expectation will be a reduction in total widebody effort (The A350 has a… Read more »