European plane maker Airbus has inaugurated its first completion center in China. Analysts said the facility constituted a fresh asset of the manufacturer in heated competition with American rival Boeing.
Airbus already had an assembly line for the single-aisle jets A319 and A320 in Tianjin some 150 kilometers (93 miles) from Beijing (the plant is pictured above).
Now, the same site hosts a completion center for long-haul A330. The 200-million-euro ($240-million) facility will receive A330s assembled in France and will prepare the cabins and apply exterior painting.
Two aircraft will be delivered to the Airbus completion center every month.
"The inauguration of our center in Tianjin, together with the first of many deliveries, marks a new milestone for Airbus's international footprint," said Chief Executive Fabrice Bregier.
With about 200 A330s in China's skies, the European manufacturer controls 61 percent of the long-haul market.
According to Airbus, China will need about 6,000 airliners over the next two decades. Its demand for large carriers will be boosted by the explosion of Chinese passenger traffic abroad which is increasing at 14 percent per year.
Having doubled its market share within a decade, Airbus is now on a par with Boeing in China.
But the US aircraft maker does not intend to be left behind. Next year, it will open its own finishing center for its medium-haul B737 in the Asian nation.
hg/jd (AFP, Reuters)