Airbus exec says checking on health of small suppliers

Airbus site in Toulouse
The logo of Airbus is seen at the entrance of a building in Toulouse, France, March 11, 2021. REUTERS/Stephane Mahe/File Photo

HAMBURG, March 16 (Reuters) РPlanemaker Airbus (AIR.PA) has measures in place to stabilise global pressure on its supply chains and is making increased checks about the financial health of small suppliers, a senior executive said on Thursday.

Speaking to journalists visiting the planemaker’s second-largest factory in Hamburg, Germany, Airbus Aerostructures Chief Executive Andre Walter did not comment directly on the latest scare in the banking sector, but said Airbus was not seeing a surge in the number of suppliers with financial problems.

“We are closely following our supply chain,” he told the AJPAE French aerospace media association.

Walter, the senior commercial manufacturing executive for Airbus in Germany, said the planemaker ended 2022 with A320-family production of 45 aircraft a month and reiterated plans to introduce the new A321XLR to service in the second quarter of 2024. Airbus has sold 560 of its longest-range single-aisle model.

Shares in Airbus were about 2% higher in late trading.

Hamburg assembles most of the rear half of the fuselage of the planemaker’s best-selling A320/321 family and is also one of four final assembly sites for the whole airplane, alongside Toulouse in France and sites in China and the United States.

It is also playing a lead role in development of the A321XLR.

Walter said Airbus was separating some industrial activities for the XLR from the rest of the single-aisle production system to handle the airplane’s greater complexity, including installation of a novel form of fuel tank.

That includes a dedicated equipment-installation facility which will use increased automation to add the wires, plumbing and arteries that turn the cylindrical rear fuselage into a serviceable airplane structure ready for final assembly.

Asked if Airbus was facing delays in its internal supply chain, including Germany-based Airbus Aerostructures, Walter said it was running smoothly but sometimes having to dip into buffer stocks. Industry sources have cited concerns over some A320 fuselage panels, as well as cabin and electronic parts.

Reporting by Tim Hepher, Writing by Friederike Heine, Editing by Paul Carrel and Mark Potter

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