Airbus Cuts A330 Production Ahead of Shift to Fuel-Saving Type

Airbus Group NV said it will cut production of it A330, indicating that demand for the twin-engine wide-body is insufficient to sustain rates ahead of plans to introduce a more efficient version from 2017.

The planemaker will bring the monthly build rate to nine by the fourth quarter of next year from the current record rate of 10, it said in a statement today. The A330 has sold better than Airbus’s own projections after a three-year delay on Boeing Co.’s 787 Dreamliner bolstered demand.

Airbus began offering an updated version of the A330 with new engines this year, dubbed the A330neo, which has already won commitments for more than 120 aircraft. The success of that model, based on a 20-year-old plane, allowed the planemaker at the same time to abandon plans for a shorter variant of its all-new A350 wide-body jetliner, known as the A350-800.

Even as rates are coming down for the wide-body model, Airbus has been signaling that it may consider an increase on its single-aisle A320 series. Boeing recently announced plans to boost rates on its 737 models to 52 a month from the present 42.

Rolls-Royce Plc, General Electric Co. and Pratt & Whitney all offer engines for the current A330, though Rolls-Royce has won more than three-quarters of the business in recent years. Rolls-Royce will be the sole provider of engines for the re-engined version coming from 2017.

The U.K. engine-maker today trimmed its sales target for 2014, saying one element that contribted to the miss was the reduction in A330 production plans.

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