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Airbus expects soaring China purchase
By Xu Dashan (China Daily)
Updated: 2004-03-25 16:29

China is expected to demand as many as 1,500 airplanes with more than 100 seats in the next two decades.

European aircraft manufacturer Airbus estimates China will purchase up to 1,500 planes over the next 20 years and hopes to grab a 50 percent market share. Here a completed segment of an Airbus A380. [Agencies]

Olivier Andries, Airbus senior vice-president in charge of marketing & pricing policies, said the largest demand category will be 100-200 seaters such as the A320 model which flies domestically.

Trunk routes between cities such as Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou will require medium-range twin-aisle aircraft like the A330, he said.

Growing international traffic, bolstered by the Olympics in Beijing and the World Expo in Shanghai, will be partly accommodated by airlines flying the A380s in China, Andries said.

Rapidly growing freight operations out of China are also stimulating much interest in the A380F, by airlines both in China and overseas, he said.

"China is very much in the destination planning of our launch customers," he said.

Andries said he is optimistic that Airbus' success will be extended in China, which is expected to become the second-largest airline market in the next 20 years.

"There is no doubt that the Airbus share of Chinese fleets can be expanded from today's 30 per cent to 50 per cent in future years," he said.

According to Airbus China President Laurence Barron, Airbus achieved 36 new orders and 36 deliveries in China last year.

Both the new orders and deliveries accounted for more than 10 per cent of Airbus' business worldwide, he said.

The company's business in China has been steadily expanding since it first entered the country in 1985, he said.

The Airbus fleet in service on the Chinese mainland and in Hong Kong and Macao has grown to around 220 today from 29 in 1995.

Five Chinese manufacturers are already involved in making Airbus parts, such as wing components and passenger doors, he said.

"Airbus is not only selling aircraft in China, but also committed to the long-term development of China's aviation industry," he said.

Airbus plans to considerably increase its procurement from China in the coming years, with values reaching US$60 million annually by 2007 from the current level of about US$10 million annually, he said.

Industrial co-operation between Airbus and the Chinese aviation industry began in 1985, when the General Administration of Civil Aviation of Shanghai, now China Eastern Airlines, became the first carrier in China to operate the European consortium's aircraft.

Contracts for Chinese companies to build sections of Airbus aircraft followed, as did further orders from Chinese airlines.

Aerospatiale, which is now Airbus France, signed its first product sub-contracting agreement in 1985 with Xi'an Aircraft Co to manufacture and assemble access doors for Airbus A300/A310 widebody aircraft.

Since then, the total value of projects subcontracted by Airbus to Chinese manufacturers has exceeded US$500 million.

In 2002, Chinese manufacturers delivered more than US$12 million worth of aircraft components to Airbus.

"Airbus' industrial co-operation with China made further progress last year," Barron said.

In October, Airbus and Xi'an Aircraft Co signed several contracts worth more than US$7.5 million to strengthen bilateral partnership.

The contracts covered increasing production rates for A320 access doors, A330/A340 brake blades and passenger door skin for A320 family.

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