Airbus delivers first Chinese-made plane

Airbus has delivered its first aircraft assembled outside Europe to its new owner.

The A320 was completed at the new Airbus assembly plant in Tianjin, China. It has been delivered to Dragon Aviation Leasing and will be operated by Sichuan Airlines.

Eleven A319/A320 aircraft are scheduled for delivery in Tianjin in 2009 and production at the facility will be ramped up to four aircraft per month by the end of 2011.

The Tianjin plant, known as FALC (Final Assembly Line China), is jointly owned by Airbus and a Chinese consortium.

Coinciding with the delivery, Airbus has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) on cooperation in aircraft financing and leasing.

ICBC Leasing will provide finance to Chinese airlines for the acquisition of up to 70 A320 aircraft assembled in Tianjin with the possibility of extending support to Airbus planes built elsewhere.

"We are proud to provide financing solutions for customers taking deliveries of aircraft assembled at FALC. Our objective is to support the whole aeronautic community in China; the airlines when enabling them to acquire Airbus aircraft as well as FALC to ensure its smooth ramp up," said Jiang Jianqing, chairman of ICBC.

"In the current economic environment, aircraft financing remains very challenging. But aircraft remain very attractive investments," said Tom Enders, Airbus president and CEO. "The timely financing support from ICBC Leasing will surely help Chinese airlines to take deliveries of their new Airbus aircraft and enhance their competitiveness."

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