Airbus To Make A330neo In China To Woo Chinese Airline Orders

Airbus has made a powerplay in the Boeing rivalry by possibly building the A330neo in China.

This news comes shortly after Rolls Royce made plans to produce their engines in a nearby factory in Tianjin.

Airbus A330neo
Airbus A330neo. Photo: Airbus.

What are the details?

Airbus has proposed that they build the A330neo at their factory Tianjin, where they currently build the single-aisle A320.

They had previously offered to build their A380s at the site, but the proposal was rejected as the Chinese government was unsure if the jet was suitable for the local environment.

The A330neo however, is perfect. With its 250-280 passenger capacity, and range of 15,000km (8,000 nmi) the aircraft is well suited for the expansive Asian nation. With twin aisles, it allows for speedy boarding and quick aircraft turnarounds. It is currently in use by TAP Portugal and will soon be flown by Air Asia X and Delta.

A330 neo
TAP Air Portugal is the launch customer for the A330-900neo. Source: Airbus

The A330neo is Airbus’ answer to the Boeing 787 Dreamliner (and you can read how we compare the two aircraft here) but has not been selling as well. Airbus has sold 230 A330-900s but only 8 of the smaller -800 versions. They had expressions of interest from Hawaiian and American Airlines but lost them to Boeing. Emirates most recently changed several of their A380 orders into 40 of the A330neo aircraft.

This move by Airbus is only possible because of their engine supplier Rolls Royce, who is opening a new factory nearby. Rolls Royce is going to be building the Trent 7000 turbine in China to be possibly used by the Chinese COMAC aircraft. The Trent 7000 turbine is the only engine option for the A330neo and its manufacture in China opens up a door for Airbus to get up on rival Boeing.

Boeing does not yet build aircraft in China but has opened a finishing/client handover center late last year. Part of the issue is that in order to build aircraft in China, aerospace companies would need to share their groundbreaking manufacturing technology. This may inevitably find its way into the hands of either the government (for the Chinese military) or rival plane manufacturing firms who are planning to challenge Airbus and Boeing.

But China is a market worth pursuing nonetheless, as experts believe that the country will soon need over 8,000 aircraft over the next 20 years. Both Airbus and Boeing want to build up local expertise in the market and grab a large slice as possible.

A330 Neo Maiden Flight
The A330 Neo made its first flight in October 2017. Photo: Airbus

Airbus has been quick to point out that these plans are just plans at this stage, and that there needs to be a lot of discussions and research before they begin the proposal.

What do you think? Is this a good move by Airbus?

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Too Old

Don’t sell your soul to China just for a few immediate sales

John

Maybe they’re doing it because all the manufacturing is based on an “old” aircraft, and the design choices are not the same today, so there is no big risk with this decision? I would be surprised that there is a major risk, because with a duopoly, there is no need to push too much for orders. Especially with the relationship US China at the moment. …. But the most likely reason for their choice is to offer an aircraft cheaper than the CR-929. We all know that Chinese and Russian carriers ten to order nationally manufactured aircrafts. It might be… Read more »

John

I agree.. why sell your souls to the chilna crime wave?
Save our jobs!

Air-journal blog

It’s not a good idee.

In a few years, China will product her airplanes.

A i think Boeing could make a 787-9 medium range against the a330-900.
In my blog i have a description of this plane, the 787-9 medium range have a MTOW similary at the 787-8, eventualy 222 tons and a 7 000 nautical miles range.

The 787-9 medium range will destroy the last heritage of the a330 program.

Bucko

It’s the same game China has been playing for decades. Haven’t we learned by now? Within five years of building the Airbus & Rolls Royce plants, all related technology will have found its way into the manufacturing lines of local Chinese competitors. Then China will “encourage” all its airlines to “buy local”, and beyond that, start competing with them in worldwide markets using their own technology but at 70% of the price. From that point on, Airbus & Rolls will fly into a death stall, while the execs who made this treasonous commercial blunder stream out of the cabin with… Read more »

JohnF

That would be a stupid move. China will copy the plane’s IP, design and manufacturing. Soon it will announce it will make its own copycat planes and dominate the Asian market.