Airbus will start producing large long-haul aircraft in China, following the signing of an agreement with its partners in the country.
A Letter of Intent (LoI) has been agreed with the Tianjin Free Trade Zone (TJFTZ) and the Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC) to set up a ‘Completion and Delivery Centre’ in Tianjin for the wide-body A330 aircraft series.
This will add to the existing assembly line and delivery centre for the smaller A320 aircraft, which Airbus already operates with its partners in Tianjin.
The LoI was signed in Berlin on Friday by Fabrice Brégier, Airbus’ president & CEO, Feng Zhijiang, TJFTZ’s president, and Lin Zuoming, president of AVIC, and witnessed by the German Chancellor Angela Merkel and visiting Chinese Premier Li Keqiang.
The A330 centre in Tianjin is expected to cover the final stages of aircraft production, including cabin installation, aircraft painting, engine runs and aircraft delivery. The aircraft will be assembled in Toulouse before flying to China for the finishing touches.
“In its 30 years history the Airbus partnership with China keeps on growing and expanding. The intended establishment of an A330 Completion and Delivery Centre will add a new exciting chapter to our longstanding track record of mutual achievements,” said Bregier.
At present, Chinese airlines and companies operate a fleet of approximately 1,000 Airbus aircraft, including around 140 A330s. But Airbus forecasts demand for more than 5,300 new commercial aircraft in China over the next 20 years.
Airbus is also now developing a new version of the A330, the A330neo, which will offer greater fuel-efficiency.