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Airbus Signs New Agreement with Chinese Government

China Southern Airbus A350-900 MSN398 (Photo: Airbus)

A few days ago in Beijing, Airbus CEO Guillaume Faury signed new cooperation agreements with Chinese aviation industry partners, reaffirming the strategic partnership that Airbus and Chinese aviation began nearly 40 years ago.

The first agreement relates to the expansion of the Tianjin facility, which will increase the final assembly capacity of the Airbus A320 Family by adding a second production line. This important agreement was signed between the European aerospace giant, the Tianjin Free Trade Zone Investment Company Ltd. and the Aviation Industry Corporation of China Ltd. (AVIC, China’s state-owned aerospace and defense conglomerate headquartered in Beijing, the world’s second largest defense company in 2022) in the presence of Chinese President Xi Jinping and French President Emmanuel Macron. This will help Airbus achieve its global target of producing 75 aircraft per month in 2026 across its global production network.

There are already four Airbus A320 Family Final Assembly Plants, two in Europe in Hamburg and Toulouse, one in the U.S. in Mobile, Ala., and one in China in Tianjin, a municipality directly controlled by the Chinese central government. The Tianjin Final Assembly Line (FAL) started operations in 2008 and has assembled more than 600 Airbus A320 Family aircraft, with the first A321neo aircraft scheduled for delivery in March 2023.

The second agreement signed by Airbus is a General Terms of Agreement (GTA) with China Aviation Supplies (CAS) Holding Company (a state-owned enterprise specializing in aircraft procurement and aviation equipment supply) for the purchase of 160 Airbus commercial aircraft, including 150 Airbus A320 Family narrowbody aircraft and 10 Airbus A350-900 widebody aircraft.

Finally, Airbus signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the China National Aviation Fuel (CNAF) Group to intensify Sino-European cooperation in the production, formulation of common standards and supply chain optimization of Sustainable Aviation Fuels (SAF), diversifying sources and improving quality to achieve the target of using 10 percent SAF by 2030.

Agreements for the near future

Over the next 20 years, China’s air traffic is expected to grow by 5.3 percent per year, much faster than the global average of 3.6 percent. As a result, China’s demand for passenger and freighter aircraft will increase sharply between now and 2041, accounting for more than 20 percent of the world’s total demand for approximately 39,500 new aircraft over the next 20 years.

These agreements confirm the well-established partnership between Airbus and the Chinese aviation industry. Airbus’ presence in the Chinese market represents more than 50 percent of the market, and by the end of the first quarter of 2023, the Airbus fleet in service in China will exceed 2,100 aircraft.

Once again, China is demonstrating its ever-increasing role in the civil aviation landscape, working with leading global industry partners such as Airbus. However, the production capacity of Chinese-made aircraft, such as the COMAC C919, is expected to reach 150 aircraft per year within five years.

Vincenzo Claudio Piscopo
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  • Vincenzo Claudio Piscopo

    Vincenzo graduated in 2019 in Mechanical Engineering with an aeronautical curriculum, focusing his thesis on Human Factors in aircraft maintenance. In 2022 he pursued his master's degree in Aerospace Engineering at the University of Palermo, Italy. He combines his journalistic activities with his work as a Reliability Engineer at Zetalab.

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