European aerospace manufacturer Airbus could further delay plans to increase its monthly A350 wide-body aircraft production rate to six jets until the end of 2023, according to people familiar with the matter cited by Bloomberg. However, the comments are yet to be confirmed by the manufacturer.
A company spokesperson was cited by Reuters on April 4, 2022, as saying: “We have always said that the recovery of the market is foreseen between 2023 and 2025 and will be led by single-aisle followed by wide-body. […] We continue to expect to increase the A350 production rate from around 5 per month to around 6 in early 2023.”
However, on the same day Bloomberg published a report citing people who asked not to be named alleging that the initial goal of building six A350s a month by early 2023 could be delayed until the end of that year amid international sanctions enforced on Russian flag carrier Aeroflot and Airbus’s ongoing legal dispute with Qatar Airways.
The manufacturer was involved in a dispute with Qatar Airways, one of the largest customers of the A350 jet. In late 2021, Qatar Airways sued Airbus over fuselage surface deterioration on its A350s, seeking more than $600 million in compensation. Qatar Airways, which has 53 A350s in its fleet, claims it had to remove a total of 22 aircraft from the flight roster.
In the latest chapter of its dispute with Airbus, in February 2022, Qatar Airways also claimed that defects in the airline’s several Airbus A350s could cause fuel tanks to ignite. The Doha-based carrier has raised concerns that flaws on the surface of the A350 fuselage could attract pollutants, such as salt or hydraulic fluids, and damage the aircraft’s lightning protection.
The sources also suggest disruptions have weakened the outlook for A350 deliveries. However, Airbus currently produces up to five A350 family aircraft per month.
According to Airbus, as of February 2022, the company had seven A350 family jets on order.