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Airbus hopes to join in China's large plane project
Updated: 2008-09-26 20:23

TIANJIN -- Airbus hopes to join in China's large plane project, said Thomas Enders, chief executive officer of the world's leading aircraft manufacturer, here on Friday.

"I hope so," said Enders, who is in this north China port city for the September 27-28 Summer Davos forum, in response to a Xinhua question on whether Airbus will join in the Chinese project that aims to develop and market homemade large passenger aircraft.

Airbus doesn't see the Chinese project as a threat and is not afraid of possible competition, the CEO added.

"Competition is always a good thing, it makes us nimble and innovative," he told the press.

The Chinese market is expected to be as important as the US and European markets in the next 20 or 30 years, and one of Airbus ' future strategies is to enhance cooperation with China, said Enders.

China set up its first ever jumbo passenger aircraft company in Shanghai in May, as a major step in its large jet program. The newly-established company, named Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China Ltd. (CACC), is expected to give the country the capacity of building aircraft with a take-off weight of more than 100 tons, or planes with more than 150 seats.

Jin Zhuanglong, the company's general manager, told Xinhua earlier that "it is too early to set a timetable or make development strategy," adding that the CACC will pose no threat to jet-making giants like Boeing and Airbus.

According to Jin, China welcomes cooperation from foreign companies in the development of the new aircraft. However, the goals of the CACC for the first few years will be establishing an operating system and training talents.

The Shanghai Aircraft Manufacturing Factory and the First Aircraft Institute of AVIC I (China Aviation Industry Corporation I), which participated in the development and manufacture of the country's first homegrown regional jet ARJ21-700, have joined the CACC, whose establishment was approved in February 2007 by the State Council, China's Cabinet.

Earlier media reports quoted Laurence Barron, president of Airbus China, as saying that the European aircraft producer hoped to know more about the program (about China's jumbo jet), and had been prepared for probing into any possibility of cooperating with Chinese partners on the program.

Enders confirmed a great possibility of providing key technologies to China's own big aircraft projects. "We look forward to strengthening research and development with Chinese enterprises and will probably triple outsourcing volume in China, which is to reach half a billion US dollars in the next couple of years," he added.

He also told the press that the Tianjin-based Airbus A320 manufacturing plant will be officially inaugurated on September 28. The assembly plant is a joint venture between Airbus and Tianjin Zhongtian Aviation Industry Investment Co., a Chinese alliance of the AVIC I, AVIC II, and Tianjin Bonded Zone Investment Group.

The assembly line project, with an estimated investment of 8 billion to 10 billion yuan (1.04 to 1.3 billion US dollars), is expected to have an annual capacity of assembling 44 aircraft by 2011, sources with the project said.