Limited impact on Airbus in China after incident involving A400M plane
Published: Feb 26, 2024 10:15 PM

This photo taken on Nov. 9, 2022 shows a view of Airbus' final assembly line for the A320 family aircraft in north China's Tianjin. Airbus has delivered more than 630 A320 family aircraft assembled at its Final Assembly Line Asia (FALA) in north China's Tianjin Municipality over the past 15 years, according to the European aircraft manufacturer. Photo:Xinhua

This photo taken on Nov. 9, 2022 shows a view of Airbus' final assembly line for the A320 family aircraft in north China's Tianjin. Photo:Xinhua

France-based aircraft manufacturer Airbus has been in the spotlight in recent days after some Chinese visitors said that they were banned from visiting an A400M transport aircraft at the Singapore Airshow.

The company said on Sunday night that it was sorry about the incident, and Chinese visitors could board and visit the aircraft freely. Chinese experts said the apology was encouraging, and the negative impact of the incident will be diluted, adding that this is the best time for the company, given that its rival Boeing is facing a dilemma in China. 

"We are aware that during the Public Day of the 2024 Singapore Airshow, some visitors raised questions about access to an A400M transport aircraft. We immediately communicated and coordinated with the customer and our Airbus teams at the show to ensure that the aircraft was open to all visitors for the remainder of the airshow," Airbus said in a statement sent to the Global Times.

"We are sorry for any inconvenience this may have caused," Airbus added.

Airbus told the Global Times that Chinese visitors could board and visit the aircraft freely from Saturday afternoon.

The remarks were made via Airbus' official account on Chinese Sina Weibo, an X-like social media, in regard to some netizens who said that an Airbus-built military transport plane affiliated with the German air force was displayed at the Singapore Airshow, and Chinese attendees were banned from making on-board visits.

A Chinese netizen named "Qianzhan Qifei" posted on Sina Weibo on Saturday that stationed in front of the A400M transport plane were soldiers from the German army and Airbus staff. They asked the passengers who were queuing up for the tour about their nationality and said that "Chinese and Russian nationals are not allowed to board the plane."

Another Sina Weibo user named "PLAN-DDG172" also posted about a similar situation.

The visitors shouldn't accept such behavior, for the show should be an open platform, Wang Ya'nan, chief editor of Beijing-based Aerospace Knowledge magazine, told the Global Times on Monday.

Such behavior is connected to the complex international situation, and one should show a cautious attitude about such behavior, Wang said. 

As to whether the incident will damage the image of Airbus in China, Wang said that the impact will be limited as most of China's cooperation with Airbus is still in the area of civilian aircraft.

Currently, Airbus in China is having its best time. Orders and deliveries of Boeing in China have slowed down due to major technical problems, and this actually gives Airbus more opportunities to expand its market share in China, Wang added. 

Airbus has always been committed to being a long-term reliable partner of the Chinese aviation industry, the company said, adding that its expanding industrial footprint around the country fully demonstrates its respect for and commitment to China.

Currently, there are Airbus projects in China, including the Airbus A320 Family Final Assembly Line in Tianjin, the Airbus Aircraft Lifecycle Service Center in Chengdu and the Airbus China R&D Center in Suzhou.

Two C919 and three ARJ 21 jets, which were developed by Commercial Aircraft Corp of China (COMAC), debuted at the Singapore Airshow.

Chinese experts said that this year will be a key period to speed up mass production and deliveries of the C919, and for COMAC to integrate the industry, supply and innovation chains for the airliner while expanding in the overseas markets.