European aircraft maker Airbus said Tuesday it will build a new production line for its hugely popular A321 single-aisle jet in France, adding to the output of the original plant in Germany.
From 2022, the jets will be built at Airbus's headquarters in Toulouse, southern France, as well as in Hamburg, Germany.
"We are enjoying an unprecedented high demand for our winning A320neo family," in particular the A321 long-range and extra-long-range versions, Airbus chief operating officer Michael Schoellhorn said in a statement.
Production in Toulouse will take place at facilities previously used to build the A380 superjumbo, which Airbus decided to scrap last year after airlines found it too expensive to operate.
The company plans to increase production of planes in the A320 series to 63 a month by 2021 to fulfil back orders of more than 6,000 jets in December.
It had already announced earlier this month plans to increase production of A320 jets at its US factory in Alabama.
The A320 series, introduced in 1987, has garnered more orders than any plane in commercial aviation history, industry experts say, as demand for mid-range flights soars.
The planes are also the main competitors to Boeing's 737 line, which has suffered from the uncertain future for the 737 MAX.
The MAX was grounded by regulators last March after two crashes that killed a total of 346 people—one involving Indonesia's Lion Air and the other an Ethiopian Airlines jet.
Since then, Boeing has failed to allay safety concerns and secure approval from regulators to allow 737 MAX flights to resume, a headache for dozens of airlines who have already ordered the plane.
Airbus delivered 863 planes last year, with A320 models making up the majority at 642 planes, while Boeing delivered just 380 planes as customers cancelled MAX orders.
© 2020 AFP