Officials from Airbus and Air Asia celebrate after the delivery ceremony for the A320neo aircraft in Tianjin on Wednesday.(Photo provided to China Daily)
Airbus Group SE said it plans to deliver more aircraft to carriers in the Asia-Pacific region from its Tianjin assembly and delivery center, and make the facility an industrial base for the company in Asia.
On Wednesday, Airbus delivered its first European and Chinese-made single-aisle A320neo aircraft, a new fuel-efficient version of A320, to Air Asia from its center in Tianjin. Air Asia is also the largest global customer of Airbus for its single-aisle aircraft.
"Currently, most of the aircraft deliveries from Tianjin have been to Chinese carriers. But we have a clear goal that we would like to make Tianjin a center for Asia, and deliver planes to more foreign customers in the Asian market," said Eric Chen, Airbus China president and CEO.
So far, the Tianjin center has assembled and delivered 339 A320 aircraft and made deliveries to 20 customers, with plans to assemble and deliver more A320neo aircraft.
The European aircraft manufacturer currently has a market share of about 50 percent in China compared with 9 percent in 1996. The Tianjin center has greatly helped in lifting its market share against archrival Boeing Co of the United States.
The Tianjin center is expected to produce four A320neo aircraft per month, and it hopes to increase the production rate as demand grows.
Airbus holds a 51 percent stake in Airbus (Tianjin) Final Assembly Co Ltd, with the balance held by the Tianjin Free Trade Zone Investment Co Ltd and the Aviation Industry Corp of China.
Andreas Ockel, general manager of Airbus (Tianjin) Final Assembly Co Ltd, said the joint venture would operate until 2025, according to the agreement of the phase two operation of Tianjin center that was signed in Paris in 2014.
In late September, Airbus inaugurated the Tianjin center of its first wide-body completion and delivery center outside Europe, and delivered the first European and Chinese made A330 aircraft to Tianjin Airlines.
Meanwhile, Boeing and Commercial Aircraft Corp of China signed an agreement on Sept 26 and unveiled Boeing's first overseas completion and delivery center in Zhoushan, Zhejiang province.
The center will start operations in May next year.
Lin Zhijie, an aviation industry analyst and columnist at Carnoc, a leading civil aviation website portal in China, said: "One-fifth of the narrow-body aircraft in the world are delivered to China."