Airbus Set To Deliver First Chinese Completed A350 In 2021

Airbus has strengthened its partnership with China today by signing a Memorandum of Understanding which outlines plans to increase the number and type of aircraft assembled or finished in the country. Specifically, the agreement includes delivery of the first-ever Chinese-finished A350s by 2021 from the Completion and Delivery Centre at the Tianjin facility.

The Airbus A350 XWB aircraft will be finished at the Chinese Tianjin facility. Photo: Airbus

The signing

The signing took place in China and was witnessed by visiting French president, Emmanuel Macron, and Chinese President, Xi Jinping. The chief executive of Airbus, Guillaume Faury, and the leader of the National Development and Reform Commission of China, He Lifeng, signed the agreement to confirm Airbus plans to have more aircraft finished in China.

In a press release, Airbus stated: “both sides commit to a further deepening and broadening of cooperation in the aviation industry.”

Airbus and China Signing
The new deal was witnessed by both the French and Chinese Presidents. Photo: Airbus

The agreement

This new agreement will see Airbus increase its production at its Tianjin facility, which already takes care of the final assembly of A320 family aircraft. Over 450 A320 aircraft have been finished in Tianjin since the facility opened in 2008. The facility is on track to reach Airbus’s target of delivering six aircraft a month from Tianjin, up from the current three, by the end of 2019. This is a part of Airbus’ global plan to reach a production rate of 63 aircraft per month for the A320 family by 2021.

Work on the A350 XWB aircraft will be integrated into the facility’s Completion and Delivery Centre from the second half of 2020, with the first planes delivered by 2021. The center, which was opened in 2017, has already carried out work installing cabins, painting aircraft, and flight testing the A330 model. The planes will still be manufactured in Europe but will now be completed in China.

The A350 XWB has already received 913 firm orders worldwide, including 30 for Air China, 20 each for China Eastern Airlines and China Southern Airlines, and 10 for Sichuan Airlines. It is one of the most successful wide-bodied aircraft ever.

Airbus assembly line in Tianjin China
Airbus assembly line in Tianjin, China. Photo: Airbus

In a statement, Airbus chief executive, Guillaume Faury, commented that the partnership with China was of “great importance” and said that Airbus is “committed to working with our Chinese partners to shape the future of the industry.”

Airbus shares rose by 0.33% following the announcement.

Growth in Asia-Pacific

The Chinese aviation market has doubled in the past ten years and is set to become the largest aviation market in the world; it is expected to overtake the American market in the coming years. Airbus has predicted that China will need 7,560 new commercial aircraft over the next 20 years. The agreements with China are part of Airbus’ overall commitment for 277 A350-900s and 54 A350-1000s from airlines in Asia-Pacific.

China isn’t the only country with fast-growing aviation industry. CNCB is reporting that “India is currently considered the third largest domestic civil aviation market in the world, but is tipped to leapfrog the U.S. and sit behind China by 2022, according to forecasts from the International Air Transport Association.”

So while Airbus is strengthening its ties to China, Boeing is focused on the Indian aviation market. Boeing has said it believes that India will need 2,380 aircraft in the next 20 years. In June of this year, Boeing signed a contract with the Airports Authority of India (AAI) to help develop a new air traffic management system to help the nation cope with the increased traffic in the coming years as the aviation industry in India grows.

What do you think about the current focus on the Asia-Pacific region? Do you think both China and India will overtake the US? Let us know below.