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Airbus Tianjin plant delivers first A350 jumbo plane
Published: Jul 21, 2021 11:42 AM
Airbus (Tianjin) widebody completion and delivery center A350 project inauguration and first aircraft delivery ceremony held in North China's Tianjin on Wednesday Photo: Tu Lei/GT

Airbus (Tianjin) widebody completion and delivery center A350 project inauguration and first aircraft delivery ceremony held in North China's Tianjin on Wednesday Photo: Tu Lei/GT



 
The first A350 delivered by Airbus (Tianjin) widebody completion and delivery center to China Eastern Airlines on Wednesday Photo: Tu Lei/GT

The first A350 delivered by Airbus (Tianjin) widebody completion and delivery center to China Eastern Airlines on Wednesday Photo: Tu Lei/GT



Airbus delivered the first A350 from its wide-body completion and delivery center (C&DC) in North China's Tianjin on Wednesday, another step in the expansion of the European planemaker's global footprint and long-term strategic partnership with China. 

The A350-900 aircraft was delivered to China Eastern Airlines, the largest Airbus operator in Asia and second-largest in the world, with an Airbus fleet of 413 planes as of June 30. 

The Tianjin plant is the only one outside the EU with the ability to produce both single-aisle and wide-body jumbos, George Xu, Airbus China CEO, said on Wednesday.

China has become a global and long-term promising market for Airbus and getting closer to customers and providing them with localized solutions is what the company ought to do, Xu added.

As of June 30, the A350 family had received 915 orders from 49 customers worldwide. Currently, there are 45 A350 aircraft that have been delivered to Chinese customers, accounting for 10 percent of the total. 

There are 45 A350 planes being operated by Chinese carriers, including China Eastern Airlines, China Southern Airlines and Air China.

Located at the same site as the Airbus Tianjin A320 Family Final Assembly Line and the Airbus Tianjin Delivery Center, the wide-body C&DC covers aircraft completion activities, including cabin installation, aircraft painting and production test flights, as well as customer flight acceptance and aircraft delivery.

"The facility is targeted at customers in China, but we will also respect overseas customers should they wish to receive A350 planes from China," Xu said, adding that the company will not rule out the possibility of increasing the production rate for the A350 in Tianjin.

The center was brought online in September 2017 with production capability for A330s. During the visit of French President Emmanuel Macron to China in 2019, a memorandum of understanding on the further development of industrial cooperation was signed in Beijing, under which the C&DC would extend its capability to A350 aircraft.

Putting more industry chain work in China will help drive the improvement of China's high-end manufacturing industry, and planemakers can make full use of China's manufacturing cost and policy advantages to optimize the layout of the global industry chain, Lin Zhijie, a market watcher, told the Global Times on Wednesday. 

China is an integral part of the global aviation ecosystem, and also an important part of the Airbus global supply chain.

Airbus rolled out the 100th mid-fuselage for its A220 aircraft from a key supplier in Northeast China's Liaoning Province on July 9. Also, Airbus said in June that the A320 fuselage project undertaken by Xi'an Aircraft International (Tianjin) Corp had commenced operations in Tianjin.

"As long as the quality and cost are competitive, our cooperation with Chinese suppliers will continue," Xu said.

About 200 suppliers in China support production for almost all of Airbus' commercial aircraft program and cover all life cycles of the aircraft. Airbus' annual spending on the commercial aircraft business in China reached about $1 billion in 2020, an increase of almost 60 percent compared with 2016 levels, according to the company.

China's aviation market has witnessed a speedy recovery from the pandemic. Transport on domestic routes has returned to its pre-pandemic level, the Civil Aviation Administration of China said on July 9.

The operation of the civil aviation industry in the first half of the year improved steadily, and the overall recovery was in line with expectations, said Zhang Qing of the CAAC.


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