Airbus has announced that work has started on building its factory in China. It is the first outside Europe that will produce entire aircraft – in this case the A320 – and is a joint venture between Airbus and Chinese government agencies which was agreed in principle last year, but with the details still to be worked out.
The assembly plant is under construction in the Chinese port city of Tianjin, about 110 kilometres east of the capital Beijing. The final cost is expected to be just short of one billion euros. It is due to start making aircraft in August next year with the first plane to be completed early in 2009; eventually it will turn out around 50 per year.
For a long time Boeing has dominated the Chinese airline market and 60% of planes being flown by Chinese airlines are Boeings, but in the past two years Airbus has overtaken its US rival in orders. China is the world’s second largest aviation market after the US. Airbus estimates China will need to increase its fleet by more around 2,600 passenger planes between by 2025.
However, the Chinese government is talking about developing its own civil aircraft industry so that it will not be dependent on Airbus or Boeing in the future.