Airbus begins to take off
The Airbus final assembly line in Tianjin, the first Airbus operation outside Europe, plans to put together 36 A320 aircraft this year, according to an official with the Tianjin Free Trade Zone (TJFTZ), a member of the consortium which jointly owns the facility.
Feng Zhijiang, the zone's director of the management committee, told the Tianjin Municipal People's Congress in January that by the end of last year, the line had delivered 37 A320 aircraft since it began operations in 2008. The aircraft was delivered to eight mainland carriers, including Sichuan, China Eastern and Shenzhen airlines.
The facility is a joint venture between Airbus, which has a 51 per cent stake, and a Chinese consortium led by TJFTZ and China Aviation Industry Corporation for the assembly of two types of the A320 family - A319 and A320 - the world's best-selling, single-aisle passenger aircraft.
The facility is located within the Tianjin Airport Industrial Park. The 70-hectare facility was built to the same design as Airbus' A320 final assembly line in Hamburg, Germany, and includes production plants, high-load vehicle roads, parking spaces, taxiways and apron areas.
Operations started in September 2008, with a production target of two aircraft per month, to be increased to four next year. The first China-assembled Airbus made its maiden flight in June 2009 before it was delivered to Dragon Aviation Leasing for operation by Chengdu-based Sichuan Airlines.
Airbus has also set up a logistics centre in Tianjin to handle the supply chain management for all of Airbus' industrial co-operation projects on the mainland. Airbus entered the mainland in 1990, with the opening of its Beijing office. It now employs more than 270 people.