Airbus puts off planned ramp-up of A220 jet

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FILE PHOTO: Employees work on an Airbus A220-300 at the Airbus facility in Mirabel, Quebec, Canada February 20, 2020. REUTERS/Christinne Muschi/File Photo

MONTREAL (Reuters) – Airbus SE (AIR.PA) is delaying its planned Canadian production ramp-up of its A220 jet by a year, a company spokeswoman said on Wednesday, as the coronavirus outbreak weighs on broader airline demand for aircraft.

Airbus plans to start picking up production of the narrowbody jet from the current four per month by mid-2021 at its Mirabel facility near Montreal, Airbus spokeswoman Marcella Cortellazzi said.

The company, which acquired the jet program from Canada’s Bombardier Inc (BBDb.TO), had planned to produce 10 of the jets per month in the country by the middle of the decade.

Airlines are preserving cash as air travel plummets, with coronavirus cases topping 615,000 in the United States and 2 million globally, according to a Reuters tally.

Airbus’ planned ramp-up of the jet at a second site in Mobile, Alabama, to four a month remains unchanged.

Production at the company’s Quebec plant has been paused from March 24 until at least May 4 after the provincial government ordered an end to all non-essential business operations.

Cortellazzi said the company planned to restart operations on May 5.

Airbus announced this month it would cut narrowbody production by a third to 40 a month. It also issued figures showing a roughly 40% cut in wide body production.

Airbus did not announce production cuts for the A220.

Reporting by Allison Lampert in Montreal; Editing by Richard Chang

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