(Adds further quotes, background)
TOULOUSE, France, Nov 24 (Reuters) - The chief executive of Airbus Group’s commercial jet division said on Thursday he had grown more confident of reaching this year’s target of at least 50 A350-900 deliveries.
“The objective has not changed. I visited the final assembly line last Tuesday and they are still working on 50 this year,” Fabrice Bregier told reporters at an event marking the maiden flight of the larger A350-1000.
“I am more confident than I was at the end of June,” Bregier said, adding: “We are now really in the ramp-up phase so we target 50 aircraft this year, or very close to it.”
The delays have been caused mainly by problems with cabin suppliers, as well as some internal work on aircraft sections.
Bregier delivered an implicit warning, couched in optimistic language, to A350 engine supplier Rolls-Royce not to take its eye off the ball as it goes through restructuring.
Asked if he was concerned about the British engineering firm, he said: “It is clear that when you restructure your group you lose a bit of focus on your customers and your operations, and Airbus went through that in the past, so I believe that Rolls will manage through these difficult times and become stronger.”
He expressed confidence Rolls would soon resolve a separate problem with Emirates Airline over performance of its engine for the A380 superjumbo, which the airline plans to receive in a change of supplier. Emirates has reported unspecified “issues”.
Airbus is meanwhile going through its own internal reorganisation that unions say will involve some 1,000 job cuts.
Bregier declined detailed comment before union meetings next week, but ruled out any impact on the group’s operations or protests of the type that shook rival Boeing in past years.
“The track record of Airbus is social dialogue and I am confident we will find appropriate solutions.”
The reorganisation will also see Bregier take on an extra role as chief operating officer of the group. He denied this would distract him from the main job of running the planemaking division, which accounts for 80 percent of group sales. (Reporting by Tim Hepher; Editing by Laurence Frost and Adrian Croft)