Air­bus bank­ing on the fu­ture of China

China Daily European Weekly - - BUSINESS - By ZHU WENQIAN zhuwen­qian@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Euro­pean air­craft man­u­fac­turer Air­bus SE said on Jan 19 that it had yet to start for­mal dis­cus­sions with Chinese au­thor­i­ties for set­ting up the fi­nal assem­bly line for its su­per­jumbo A380 air­craft in the coun­try, but re­mained con­fi­dent of po­ten­tial fu­ture co­op­er­a­tion op­por­tu­ni­ties.

Ge­orge Xu, newly ap­pointed CEO of Air­bus Com­mer­cial Air­craft China, said he re­mained bullish about growth prospects for the world’s largest pas­sen­ger air­liner in China, adding that Air­bus is con­stantly strength­en­ing its com­mu­ni­ca­tions with Chinese car­ri­ers on A380 or­ders.

“When Air­bus started pro­duc­ing A380s, it iden­ti­fied China as one of its most im­por­tant mar­kets. China has a lot of big air hubs, and the coun­try has huge de­mand for large-scale air­craft,” he said at a news brief­ing in Bei­jing.

Mean­while, United Arab Emi­rates-based Emi­rates Air­line said it would or­der an­other 36 A380 air­jin. craft for $16 bil­lion ($2.5 bil­lion; 2 bil­lion eu­ros; £1.8 bil­lion), af­ter Air­bus hinted that it would stop A380 pro­duc­tion if it was un­able to re­al­ize new or­ders.

Air­bus and China signed an agree­ment ear­lier this month, dur­ing French Pres­i­dent Em­manuel Macron’s state visit, to in­crease the ca­pac­ity of its Tian­jin assem­bly and de­liv­ery cen­ter for the sin­gleaisle A320. The Tian­jin cen­ter is a ma­jor in­dus­trial base for Air­bus in Asia.

Cur­rently, Air­bus as­sem­bles four A320 air­craft each month in Tian- By early 2019, the assem­bly line will pro­duce five air­craft a month, and by early 2020, it will pro­duce six A320s a month, ac­cord­ing to the agree­ment.

“This will help cre­ate more work for our sup­pli­ers, and we hope to fur­ther strengthen in­dus­trial co­op­er­a­tion with Chinese sup­pli­ers,” Xu said.

By the end of 2017, the to­tal out­put from the co­op­er­a­tion be­tween Air­bus and Chinese in­dus­trial play­ers reached $592 mil­lion, from $120 mil­lion in 2010, ac­cord­ing to Air­bus.

Cur­rently, Air­bus takes about half of the mar­ket share in China, com­pared with 9 per­cent in 1996. Its in­dus­trial co­op­er­a­tion with China has helped greatly in lift­ing its mar­ket share against archri­val Boe­ing Co of the United States.

Boe­ing has a B737 MAX com­ple­tion and de­liv­ery cen­ter in Zhoushan, Zhe­jiang prov­ince, that is ex­pected to go into op­er­a­tion in May. By the end of the year, Boe­ing will de­liver the first sin­gle-aisle B737 MAX plane di­rectly from Zhoushan to a do­mes­tic air­line.

PRO­VIDED TO CHINA DAILY

An em­ployee works on the fuse­lage of an A320 plane at Air­bus A320 Fam­ily fi­nal assem­bly line in Tian­jin.

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