Exclusive: Airbus shelves plan to add a new A321 assembly line

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FILE PHOTO: The Airbus logo is photographed at the headquarters of the Airbus aircraft manufacturer in Colomiers near Toulouse, France, on September 27, 2019. REUTERS / Regis Duvignau

PARIS / TOULOUSE (Reuters) – Airbus (AIR.PA) has suspended plans to create a new assembly line in Toulouse, France, for its airliner A321 while the company is fighting the coronavirus crisis.

Airbus announced plans for the route in January when its problem was how to meet record demand for the plane from its site in Hamburg, Germany, which struggled to adapt to overtime and the complexity required to make Airbus’ most ambitious single-aisle jet.

Although the project to convert the company’s A380 production plant in Toulouse, which is being closed, remains on the table, the urgency to pursue it has disappeared with the financial pressures of the coronavirus crisis , industry sources said.

“Our plans for an A321 line in Toulouse are on hold, pending,” an Airbus spokesperson confirmed. “When we see the rates go up again, we will reconnect to the plans. “

CEO Guillaume Faury told reporters this week that Airbus will “hibernate” new investments to save money.

That leaves a question as to what to do with its huge Lagardère A380 production plant in Toulouse, where production of the world’s largest airliner is scheduled to end in the coming months, raising uncertainty over the role of hundreds of workers.

French unions have said they will fight for the factory.

“Unlike Guillaume Faury, who wants to stop non-essential investments, we believe that the arrival of a new A321 line in the Lagardère plant should be maintained,” said Xavier Petrachi, union official at the CGT.

Tim Hepher report, Johanna Decorse; edited by Jason Neely and Jane Merriman

Our standards:Principles of the Thomson Reuters Trust.

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