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AIRSHOW CHINA: Airbus not ready to build widebodies in China yet

Airbus has not ruled out building a widebody final assembly line in China, but says it is not at the stage to consider such a move just yet.

Airbus China president Eric Chen was tight-lipped when asked if the airframer is open to setting up an assembly line for widebody aircraft, possibly the A330, considering its recently announced plans to establish an A330 completion centre in Tianjin.

“I would not say yes or no. It all depends on market conditions. If there is a large widebody demand, then I think the management at Airbus will think about it very seriously. We’re not at this stage yet,” Chen tells Flightglobal.

He however stressed that the plan to set up an A330 completion centre in Tianjin, where it also has an A320 final assembly line, is an important move “from the industrial point of view”. This is an expansion of its collaboration with Tianjin’s free trade zone and Chinese firm AVIC.

While Airbus will continue to manufacture the A330 in Toulouse, some aircraft would be flown to the Chinese completion centre for cabin installation, painting and engine runs. Realistically, those aircraft would be for Chinese customers since the demand for A330s “is very strong here”, says Chen.

He adds that in parallel, Airbus will also cooperate with AVIC to produce equipment such as seats and galleys.

“With the A320 final assembly line and then the A330 completion and delivery centre, this will attract other vendors to settle down in Tianjin and all together we’ll build up a chain in the aeronautical industry,” he adds.

Airbus is also pushing the regional A330 as a solution to ease constraints in the China market. The airframer has always said that its Tianjin A320 line has been beneficial for its business in the country.

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