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Airbus to increase Tianjin output to six A320s a month

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January 12th 2018

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Airbus on Tuesday signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the National Development and Reform Commission of China (NDRC) for deepened development of joint industrial cooperation. Read More »

The agreement was signed by He Lifeng, chairman of the NDRC, and Fabrice Brégier, Airbus COO and president of its Commercial Aircraft division, in the presence of Chinese president, Xi Jinping, and visiting French president, Emmanuel Macron.

Both sides agreed to enhance industrial cooperation at Airbus’ Tianjin facility and strengthen their partnership in technical innovation, engineering capabilities and supply chain expansion.

On the same day, Airbus and its Chinese partners signed a framework agreement for increasing the A320 output rate at the Tianjin Final Assembly Line (FAL) to six aircraft per month from 2020.

At present, the Tianjin FAL produces four A320s a month. A ramp up to five aircraft a month is targeted for early 2019, before an increase of six a month in early 2020.

Since its establishment in 2008, the Tianjin FAL has assembled 354 A320 Family aircraft to December 31, 2017. Deliveries to Chinese customers and Asia-Pacific operators included the first A320neo in the second half of 2017.

“The industrial cooperation between Airbus and China and its continued success are a true role model of a winning partnership between China and Europe. Together with our Chinese partners we are proud to lift our cooperation to new heights,” said Airbus’ Brégier, who will be succeeded by Airbus Helicopters CEO, Guillaume Faury, in the coming weeks.

Airbus’ industrial footprint in China dates back to 1985, when the first product sub-contracting agreement was signed with Xi’an Aircraft Company. The total value of industrial cooperation between Airbus and the Chinese aviation industry in 2017 was almost US$600 million.

Last September, joint venture partners, Airbus and China’s AVIC, added a US$200 million A330 Completion & Delivery Centre (CDC) at the Tianjin manufacturing hub. At the opening, Brégier said the A330 CDC was “the best demonstration of a strategy that is balanced with Chinese partners who are strong and [if you have] a good product, yes, it helps you penetrate the market”.

On Monday, the Financial Times reported Airbus was offering an industrial partnership with China on the A380 if Chinese carriers placed orders for the world’s largest passenger jet, which could include handing over some interiors and finishing work to Mainland firms.

In a joint statement on Wednesday, France and China said the presidents of the two nations encourage Airbus and its Chinese partners to explore cooperation on the A330, A350 and A380 programmes.

“China is willing to continue purchasing Airbus aircraft through the mutually beneficial and friendly consultations with France regarding the development needs of China's air transport market,” the statement read, and added “both parties are happy about the prospect of signing new contracts in the future”.

The A380 programme’s future is in doubt. Airbus has not sold any of the type since early 2016, even though it launched an upgraded A380plus variant last year. China Southern Airlines is the sole operator of the A380 in China. Asia’s largest airline operates five of the type on domestic trunk routes and flights to the U.S.

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