An Airbus A350-900 plane arrives at Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport in Sichuan province. (Photo/CHINA DAILY)
Air China and Sichuan Airlines will be the first batch of mainland customers to take delivery this year of the A350－a new widebody aircraft produced by Airbus Group SE, and the European group said it is bullish about the country's demand for widebody aircraft, fueled by fast-growing long-haul international routes.
Air China ordered 10 A350-900 jets, and Sichuan Airlines will get four A350 aircraft. Airbus said orders from the Asia-Pacific region account for nearly one-third of its total orders.
Last year, Airbus delivered 153 new aircraft to Chinese operators, accounting for 22 percent of its global deliveries of 688 commercial jets. The company has been delivering more than 100 jets to the China market every year for seven consecutive years, it said.
Airbus said global deliveries last year hit a record high and the company said its revenue from commercial aircraft sales rose 7 percent year-on-year.
This year, Airbus said it expects to deliver more than 700 commercial aircraft. Most of the growth in commercial aircraft is coming from Asia, according to the group's 2016 financial results released on Wednesday.
With a growth rate that is higher than the rest of the world, Airbus said it was also putting more innovation and manufacturing effort into Asia. In September, its new completion and delivery center in Tianjin of China will deliver its first A330. By 2019, the center aims to reach a stable production rate of two A330 aircraft a month.
The center, inaugurated last year, is the company's first overseas completion and delivery site for the A330. It has so far recruited more than 160 employees, nearly 60 percent of the total planned workforce.
In the first half of 2016, Chinese airlines transported 25.2 million people on international routes, jumping 27 percent year-on-year, according to the Civil Aviation Administration of China.
Eric Chen, Airbus China president and CEO, said China's booming growth of international flights, especially long-haul routes, required widebody aircraft.
He said the A350 is suitable for those airlines with complete international flight networks.
Meanwhile, Airbus executives said the company planned to reduce the production of its A380 jumbo jet to 12 units a year in 2018, although the aircraft manufacturer said it was bullish on the growth potential for A380s in China in the near future and would try to win more orders.