China's drive to further open up its aircraft manufacturing sector will be a shot in the arm for both the local industry and foreign companies planning to increase their investments, said the newly appointed China CEO of European aircraft manufacturer Airbus SE.
"It is significant positive news. It will be mutually beneficial for the local manufacturing industry and high-tech aviation companies to expand their investments in China. It will surely help to deepen the cooperation between foreign manufacturers and their Chinese counterparts," George Xu, CEO of Airbus China, told China Daily.
"Airbus values the importance of the China market, and it also recognizes the manufacturing and innovation ability of the country. We hope to achieve a win-win situation together with China," he said.
As part of the country's broader opening-up push, the National Development and Reform Commission said earlier that China will phase out the 50 percent equity cap this year for foreign aircraft manufacturers in joint ventures in China.
The manufacturing of trunk planes, regional planes, general aviation aircraft, helicopters, unmanned aerial vehicles and aerostatics will benefit from the relaxation in the equity cap restrictions, according to the statement. Before, China's aviation industry had a high threshold for foreign investment access.
Xu pointed out that the easing of foreign equity restrictions will allow domestic companies to better interact with foreign firms and help Chinese companies to improve. The Chinese aviation market witnesses huge growth every year, and the incremental quantity is big enough to welcome competition between different firms.
This year, 10 years after it was established, the Airbus Tianjin A320 family final assembly line, a major industrial base for Airbus in Asia, will deliver the 400th A320 family aircraft.
Meanwhile, China has become Airbus Helicopters' biggest civilian market in terms of annual orders, exceeding the United States. To meet that demand, Airbus Helicopters has started building a final assembly plant in Qingdao, Shandong province.
The factory, which will assemble H135 aircraft－a light, twin-engine helicopter－is expected to come online and roll off the first aircraft in the second half of the year.
"We are also researching and discussing the feasibility of other in-depth cooperations. We don't rule out any possibilities," Xu said.
"Besides industrial cooperation with Chinese firms, we would also like to expand cooperation with Chinese airlines in terms of training, spare parts maintenance and other digital collaborations."
Airbus' US rival Boeing has a B737MAX completion and delivery center in Zhoushan, Zhejiang province, and it is expected to go into operation in May. By the end of this year, Boeing plans to deliver the first B737MAX plane directly from Zhoushan to a domestic airline.