An Airbus A320, ordered by China Eastern, on the Tianjin assembly line. [CFP]
Four Chinese airlines - Sichuan, Shenzhen, Hainan and China Eastern - are slated to receive 11 Airbus A320 aircraft assembled in Tianjin this year, Jean-Luc Charles, general manager of Airbus (Tianjin) Final Assembly Company Ltd, told China Daily on Friday.
The first A320 assembled in Tianjin is expected to be delivered in June to Dragon Aviation Leasing, which will lease the jetliner to Sichuan Airlines. The rest of the 11 A320s will go to the other three Chinese airlines.
"According to the current plan, China Eastern and Hainan Airlines are supposed to take most of the 11 A320s under assembling or to be assembled in Tianjin this year," said Xu Gang, deputy general manager of Airbus (Tianjin) Final Assembly Company Ltd.
Currently, components for A320s assembled in Tianjin come from Europe, but Charles said Airbus plans to get more parts from local suppliers.
By the end of 2011, the capacity of the Tianjin assembly facility is expected to reach four A320s per month, according to Charles.
Despite the current economic woes, Charles expressed confidence in China's civil aviation market. "Although it is a difficult moment, there are a great number of passengers traveling by air in China. And Chinese airlines are busy restructuring and improving their performance. Therefore, we are confident in the local market potential," he said.
Charles did not exclude the possibility of the Tianjin assembly line feeding other Asian markets in the future.
Tianjin Mayor Huang Xinguo told Xinhua News Agency in March that another 15 A320 aircraft are scheduled to come off the assembly line next year, orders have been secured until 2012 and production has been planned until 2016.
The assembly line is expected to deliver 286 airplanes by 2016, Huang said.
The Airbus assembly line in Tianjin was launched last September with an estimated investment of 8 billion ($1.17 billion) to 10 billion yuan.
It is the Airbus' third general assembly line. The other two are in France and Germany. The facility is used for assembling A319 and A320 aircraft.