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PHOENIX (Reuters) - Airbus (AIR.PA) could commit to a new increase in production of its A320 jet family before the end of the year, but a final decision depends on its top management and the health of the supply chain, its sales chief said on Monday.
Sales chief John Leahy made the prediction days after the European planemaker announced plans to raise production from 42 planes a month now to 50 a month in 2017, almost matching a monthly rate of 52 targeted by Boeing for the following year.
"Some time before the end of the year I think it is possible, subject to the executive committee of Airbus and the board of Airbus Group," Leahy said, adding that Chief Executive Tom Enders had already spoken of potential rates above 60.
"The demand is clearly there; it is purely a question of studying the supply chain and making sure we can deliver smoothly and in a proper ramp-up," he told Reuters in an interview.
Speaking on the sidelines of an industry conference, Leahy said it would take most of this year for the European group to decide on whether to upgrade the A380 superjumbo with new engines, a move requested by its top customer Emirates.
He also predicted that China could place a order for "up to 100" of the current version of the smaller A330 wide-body jetliner before the Paris Airshow, which takes place in June.
Reporting by Tim Hepher; Editing by Ken Wills