Toulouse, France - Airbus is planning to launch a new Final Assembly Line to meet record demand for its best-seller medium-haul jetliner A321neo.
The Toulouse (France), Mobile (US) and the Tianjin (China) are considered for the new facility, but the huge halls in Toulouse, which were built for the A380 production, already has required infrastructure for a new assembly line.
Due to lack of demand, Airbus to end A380 production after delivering the last A380 to Emirates in 2021.
The manufacturer plans to activate the new assembly line by the and of this year. When completed, it will be the ninth assembly line for the A320neo family jets.
Airbus has so far declined to comment on the location of new FAL.
An A380 Hall in Toulouse
We see a need to adapt our assembly capacity to reflect our richer A321 mix within the A320 family from 2022 onwards,
Chief Operating Officer Michael Schoellhorn said in an email statement exclusively sent to Reuters news agency.
The A321neo is the longer variant of the A320neo family with a 180 to 240 seating capacity. The long-range variant A321LR is able to fly to the eastern coast of the United States from western Europe.
The newly launched XLR (extra-long-range) variant will allow airline operators to serve even longer transatlantic routes from the US and Europe.
The medium-haul jets are the most demanded commercial planes on the market and will reach a $3 trillion market value over the next 20 years.
This segment of the market is dominated by Airbus's A320neos and Boeing's 737 MAXs.
After two tragic 737 MAX 8 crashes and following grounding of this type, the A320neo seems to be unrivaled for now.
It remains unclear whether Boeing will launch its long-awaited NMA (New Midsize Airplane) for the MoM (Middle of Market). At the beginning of this year, the American aerospace giant announced that it delayed the final decision for it until next year.
United Airlines wants Boeing to make a decision immediately since the airline has to replace its aging 767s with more efficient medium-haul jets.
On the other hand, Airbus's new Cabin-Flex configuration offered customers as an option causes delays in deliveries. Last month, IAG boss Willie Walsh called A321neo delivery delays "unacceptable" while explaining why they want their first 737 MAXs earlier than initially planned.
Airbus Cabin-Flex allows up to 240 seats in a single-class configuration
For this reason, the new Final Assembly Line wouldn't bring back the A321neo deliveries on track immediately. The manufacturer also needs to improve its ACF (Airbus Cabin-Flex) facility in Hamburg with new lines and skilled workforce.