With the French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault on hand for the ceremony, European planemaker Airbus has inaugurated a factory to build its new A350 jetliner, which is due to take to the skies next summer and go into service one year later.
The plane is Airbus’ response to Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner. Like the Dreamliner it is constructed using mainly carbon-fibre which is stronger and lighter than aluminium.
That does cut airline’s fuel bills, but carbon fibre is costlier to produce and neither the A350 nor the 787 is expected to make a profit for years.
Built at a cost of 140 million euros, the new 74,000-square metre plant at Toulouse in south east France will eventually turn out 10 of the wide-bodied jets each month.
The factory ceremony comes as competition intensifies for the sales of jets to Asia and other fast-growing markets.