Airbus targets China with first facility outside Europe

Aircraft maker Airbus opens a new factory facility in China, its first outside Europe

Aerospace group Airbus has opened a new facility in China, its first final assembly line outside Europe, with the aim of tapping into what it sees as a potentially huge new market in the coming years.

The facility in Tianjin will build the A320 aircraft and is based on the latest state-of-the-art Airbus single-aisle final assembly line in Hamburg, Germany, the company said.

The first aircraft assembled there will be delivered to Sichuan Airlines through Dragon Aviation Leasing in mid-2009. By 2011 the plant’s output is expected to reach four aircraft a month.

The facility is a joint venture between Airbus and a Chinese consortium comprising Tianjin Free Trade Zone and China Aviation Industry Corporation.

"The opening of the [facility] is an historic event for Airbus and for the aviation industry," Tom Enders, Airbus chief executive, said. "The first Airbus final assembly line outside Europe highlights the importance we attach to growing our partnership with China, one of the most important aviation markets today and certainly tomorrow."

Airbus expects China to need up to 3,000 new large aircraft over the next 20 years, helping to support worldwide demand in the face of current economic uncertainties, Enders said. "That will make China almost as important in terms of market size, or on par, with the US.”

Six Chinese manufacturers are already involved in manufacturing parts such as wing components, emergency-exit doors and assembly and transportation tools for Airbus aircraft.

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