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A model Airbus jetliner is displayed at the China International Aviation and Aerospace Exhibition, in Zhuhai, China, on Sept. 28, 2021.ALY SONG/Reuters

European plane maker Airbus delivered between 140 and 142 aircraft in the first quarter, up almost 13 per cent from the same period last year, industry sources said on Wednesday.

Airbus declined comment ahead of monthly orders and deliveries data due on Friday.

The figures imply March deliveries of some 62 jets, at least some of which came from long-term storage, the sources said.

Airbus is in the midst of planned production increases of single-aisle jets, but faces growing concern over manufacturing supply chains.

Jefferies analyst Chloe Lemarie this week estimated total quarterly deliveries of 139 aircraft but said “production challenges” and demand were under scrutiny.

According to an Airbus court filing connected to a legal dispute with Qatar Airways, as of March the plane maker was producing 50 narrowbodies a month, including 27 A321neos.

It plans to increase this to 61 a month by end-2022 of which 33 will be A321neos, the filing said, adding that the plane maker ultimately aims to raise production above 70 a month by 2025.

“This is clearly a challenging target, and the pressure on suppliers to keep pace is high,” it said.

Airbus has so far publicly committed to raising output to 65 a month by the summer of 2023, without giving interim steps.

It has said it is asking suppliers to be ready for output of 70 a month by the first quarter of 2024, if a decision to raise output again is taken, while exploring rates up to 75 by 2025.

Chief Executive Guillaume Faury said in February Airbus was on a trajectory to reach 65 a month by summer next year. Higher rates beyond 2023 were “still in the assessment phase”.

Analysts say production of the larger wide-body A350, which competes in the weaker long-haul market, remains uncertain though Airbus this week reiterated its guidance.

Bloomberg News reported this week that Airbus may delay a planned increase in A350 production because of Russian sanctions and the dispute with Qatar Airways, which is refusing to take A350s in a row over damage to the surface of the jets.

Airbus has begun efforts to remarket some of the A350s at the centre of the dispute to new customers including Air India, industry sources said.

Airbus declined to comment. Air India did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Airbus has more than 20 A350s on order from Qatar Airways but is revoking them one by one as the airline rejects delivery on safety grounds. So far, three A350s have been cancelled by Airbus, which says there is no safety issue.

Qatar is suing Airbus for $1-billion of A350 compensation, with Airbus making a counter-claim to claw back millions of dollars of credits connected to the original A350 contract.

The two sides will square off in court on Thursday when Qatar Airways will seek to freeze an Airbus decision to revoke a separate contact to supply A321neos. The feuding firms disagree on whether deals for the two models are contractually linked.

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