(Bloomberg) -- Airbus SE is searching for alternative sources of titanium to ensure a lack of access to the lightweight metal doesn’t interfere with the planemaker’s plan to increase production.
The planned ramp-up to a rate of 65 A320-family narrow-bodies per month by mid-2023 is the number one priority for the group, European sales chief Wouter Van Wersch said in an interview. Airbus relies on Russia for about half its supply, creating the potential for disruption if shipments are interrupted.
“We are looking into it very closely to see how we can ensure it doesn’t impact our supply chain and our ramp-up,” he said. “For now, there’s no issue.”
Airbus has set ambitious plans to push build rates up from the current 40-odd a month to capitalize on demand for A320-family jets. The company is seeking to recover to pre-Covid 19 output rates and then move higher. But the Russian invasion of Ukraine has put titanium supplies at risk for both the manufacturer and its suppliers.
The Toulouse, France-based manufacturer currently gets about half its titanium sponge from Russia, and key suppliers like engine-maker Safran SA also reliant.
For now, the European Union has allowed Airbus to keep buying Russian titanium, while U.S. rival Boeing Co. has said it would halt purchases.
This will be a good year for sales in Europe, according to Wersch, making securing the ramp up even more essential. Airbus is currently on track with its production plans, he said.
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