Source AP ©

Airbus speeds up A320 plane production

Airbus will increase monthly production of A320 aircraft to 40 from 32 by the end of 2009.

The company said its decision to ramp up its production is driven by strong demand for the aircraft and a record backlog of more than 2,500 aircraft.

"This production increase confirms again that we continue to be an outstanding growth industry," said Louis Gallois, president and co-chief executive of Airbus.

After a delay in the launch of Airbus's A380 superjumbo airplane has stretched into two years, parent company European Aeronautic Defence & Space Co. posted a loss of 768 million EUR (US$1.01 billion) in October-December.

Airbus still delivered more planes than major rival Boeing Co. in 2006, but is expected to fall behind in 2008, given current order backlogs and its late-to-market midsize A350 jet.

The company has announced a major restructuring program, shedding 10,000 jobs across Europe - especially in France and Germany, where the bulk of the company's operations are based.

Airbus has already been increasing production of the A320 family of planes, with monthly output set to reach 34 by March 2008 and 36 in December 2008.

Shares EADS dipped 0.3 percent to 22.56 EUR (US$30.58) in Paris.

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