Airbus bullish on biz environment in nation

2024-07-10 10:24:57China Daily Editor : Li Yan ECNS App Download

European aircraft manufacturer Airbus has delivered its 700th A320 family aircraft assembled at its final assembly line in Tianjin, indicating the plane maker's long-term commitment to China, its largest single-country market.

The aircraft, an A320neo with 180 economy class seats, was handed over to Chengdu Airlines on Monday. By the end of June, Chengdu Airlines operated a fleet of 52 aircraft from the A320 family.

"The delivery of the 700th A320 family aircraft assembled in Tianjin underscores the unwavering commitment of our China teams to support Airbus' global A320 family ramp-up plan," said George Xu, Airbus executive vice-president and Airbus China CEO.

"Airbus remains dedicated to strengthening our strategic collaboration with China, reinforcing our long-term commitment to this thriving market," Xu said.

Opened in 2008, the Airbus facility in Tianjin serves as the plane maker's first commercial aircraft assembly line outside of Europe, and the Tianjin center delivered its first A320 in 2009.

Airbus started to expand its A320 fleet's final assembly capacity in Tianjin last year with a second line, and it will contribute to the company's global A320 family ramp-up plan. The new facility is expected to be put into operation and begin delivery in early 2026.

In addition, the entire A320 family aircraft has been able to operate with up to 50 percent sustainable aviation fuel. By 2030, Airbus aims for all its aircraft to be capable of operating with up to 100 percent SAF.

"China's huge civil aviation market has been attractive. In the next 20 years, the demand for single-aisle aircraft in the country is expected to double from the current level," said Zou Jianjun, a professor at the Civil Aviation Management Institute of China.

"Airbus' investment in China showcases its recognition of the final assembly capacities and the development of the aviation supply chain in China. It also indicates the company's confidence in the investment environment of the country," Zou said.

Through 2042, China will need 8,560 new commercial airplanes, including 6,470 single-aisle ones, fueled by its economic growth well above the global average and an increasing demand for domestic air travel, according to a forecast by US aircraft manufacturer Boeing Co.

Airbus' Tianjin facility has been successfully operating for over 15 years, and has become a role model of successful Sino-European cooperation. It has helped Airbus increase its market share in China.

Globally, Airbus operates four A320 final assembly sites, located in Hamburg, Germany; Toulouse, France; Mobile, Alabama, the United States; and Tianjin, China.

China's air travel market is steadily picking up after the COVID-19 pandemic. In May, the number of passengers who took domestic and international flights reached 58.87 million person-times, up 13.9 percent year-on-year, according to the Civil Aviation Administration of China.

Meanwhile, the sixth C919, China's first domestically developed narrow-body aircraft, has been put into commercial operation by Shanghai-based China Eastern Airlines. The six C919 planes are operating on four domestic commercial routes, and the daily utilization rate of the planes has continued to increase.

Since the first C919 was put into commercial operation in May 2023, the aircraft model has transported more than 300,000 person-times of passengers, China Eastern said.

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