Aircraft builder Airbus opened an assembly plant in China on Sunday, its first production facility outside of Europe.
Airbus will primarily target the local Chinese market with the plant's products
Airbus said it viewed the modern facility in the port city of Tianjin one hour to the south-east of the capital Beijing as a "milestone" in the globalization of the company's production.
"With the final assembly line here in Tianjin, we deepen and expand our industrial relationship, which is a key pillar of the internationalization strategy of Airbus," Airbus head Thomas Enders was quoted by the Xinhua news agency as saying at the opening ceremony.
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao was also present Sunday.
The investment in the plant was between 8 billion and 12 billion yuan ($1.2 billion to 1.8 billion, or 800 million and 1 billion euros), state-run Xinhua reported.
Airbus began constructing the plant in May 2007
The Airbus chief further said that the company would seek to purchase $1 billion of components and materials from Chinese companies annually by 2020. In 2007, the company bought $70 million of equipment from China.
Enders said the Tianjin assembly line had "the latest state-of-the-art technologies, as it has integrated technologies from both lines in France and Germany."
Four A320 Airbus craft are expected to be assembled at the Tianjin plant each month by 2011 at the latest. The first aircraft is expected to be delivered to China's Sichuan Airlines in the middle of 2009.
Eyeing local markets
Assembly in Tianjin of parts produced in Europe already was started up in August.
The new assembly plant, which is the equivalent of the modern Airbus facility in Germany's northern city of Hamburg, will primarily target the Chinese market, which the Airbus CEO said was the second largest aviation market.
Air passenger numbers are predicted to climb by 10 percent per annum in China.