Airbus may delay some aircraft deliveries in 2023-sources

By Tim Hepher

PARIS, November 27 (Reuters)Airbus AIR.PA sets the stage for further delays to planned delivery dates of some medium-haul aircraft in 2023 even as it races to meet 2022 delivery targets amid supply chain and workforce issues work, three industry sources said.

The two-tier approach comes as uncertainty remains over engine supply for new plane production as well as other parts and labor, they added, asking not to be named. .

An Airbus spokesman said it had no comment on the deliveries until its next monthly bulletin in early December.

Analysts say aerospace is grappling with a series of simultaneous problems with multiple ripple effects.

Airliner and engine makers are grappling with supply chain and labor issues, as are global repair shops needed to help airlines respond to a sharper recovery than forecast of demand by keeping their existing aircraft in service.

The freeze in repair capacity has left dozens of planes grounded as their engines come out of overhaul late, creating competition for engines between new plane assembly lines and spare parts for the existing fleet.

At least one engine maker is under renewed pressure to move more engines from aircraft production to a spare parts pool for existing customers, the sources said.

Airbus produces A320-neo family aircraft with a choice of engines from General Electric GE.N and Saffron SAF.PA joint venture CFM International or Raytheon Technologies RTX.N Pratt & Whitney unit. Boeing only uses CFM for its 737 family.

Data showing how many jets are unused due to maintenance delays as opposed to economic or other reasons is not available. But there are signs that the total number of parked A320neo family jets has increased since the start of this year, led by Pratt versions, even as demand for travel on these planes has increased.

None of the engine manufacturers had an immediate comment.

In October, Airbus and Safran hit a more optimistic note on recently disrupted engine supplies that Boeing, which said during quarterly results that engines were its biggest constraint.

Meanwhile, engine industry sources insist that problems on their side of the fence aren’t the only culprit behind the delays. One executive denied any additional pressure on engine supplies.

Jet makers struggled to get other parts in time, including galleys and lavatories, an official said.

In July, Airbus announced that it would hit an intermediate production target of 65 A320 Family narrow-body aircraft per month in early 2024 instead of summer 2023. It is targeting 75 per month in 2025.

(Reporting by Tim Hepher Editing by William Maclean, Alexander Smith and Frances Kerry)

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