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Airbus says A380 challenge in China is 'commercial'

Airbus says China is aware that it is open to industrial co-operation on the A380, but the challenge is convincing the country's airlines that they can do well commercially with the superjumbo.

"We need to convince the airlines that they can increase their market share and increase tremendously their image by buying the A380 and operating them from big Chinese hubs," says Airbus commercial aircraft president Fabrice Bregier at a press conference on 15 January.

"The Chinese market will be the biggest in the world and I believe the biggest market deserves the biggest aircraft."

He was responding to a question on whether Airbus has offered China an industrial partnership on the A380. This surfaced in reports last week during French president Emmanuel Macron's official visit to China.

Bregier says such an offer would be "premature" but stressed that the manufacturer has a "great relationship" with China because of its A320 production line in Tianjin, and also recently opened an A330 completion and delivery centre.

"So they know that we're open to an industrial co-operation for instance on the A380, but the challenge is more commercial."

The airframer has drawn up plans to cut production of the A380 to as few as six aircraft per year beyond 2019, and its chief operating officer for customers John Leahy has even acknowledged that a failure to secure a follow-on A380 agreement with Emirates would effectively force closure of the programme.

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