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A350 slot constraints pose challenge for Airbus in China

The lack of early available delivery slots for the Airbus A350 is a major challenge for the manufacturer as it pitches the type to Chinese customers.

“Our industrial constraint is that you need to place the order well in advance to ensure delivery at a given period… so with 800 A350s being ordered, of course it’s a mathematical exercise,” says Airbus China president and chief executive Eric Chen to reporters in Beijing.

The problem in particular for Chinese customers, is that they plan their fleet requirements in five-year periods, and are cautious when it comes to ordering aircraft beyond that timeframe. The next five year period covers 2016 to 2020.

“We’re trying to satisfy our customers, but yes I have slot issues,” says Chen.

He adds that Airbus is in active discussions with various Chinese airlines regarding the A350, and that he is confident that it is the right aircraft for Chinese airlines to operate to Europe and North America.

“The key for us is industrial ramp up to produce enough production required by the market. That for me is a real challenge.”

Flightglobal’s Fleets Analyzer shows that Air China is Airbus’ only A350 Chinese customer, with an order for 10 -900s.

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