Caixin
Oct 26, 2017 06:46 PM
BUSINESS & TECH

Airbus Plane Made in Tianjin Lands in AirAsia’s Hands

The first A320neo aircraft assembled at the Airbus Final Assembly Line Asia in Tianjin is displayed in the city on Wednesday during the ceremony to mark its delivery to Malaysian airliner AirAsia Berhad. Photo: IC
The first A320neo aircraft assembled at the Airbus Final Assembly Line Asia in Tianjin is displayed in the city on Wednesday during the ceremony to mark its delivery to Malaysian airliner AirAsia Berhad. Photo: IC

Airbus SE has delivered to Malaysia’s AirAsia Berhad the first A320neo aircraft assembled in Tianjin — a milestone for a company eager to expand the appeal of planes made in China to beyond the country’s airspace.

The aircraft is powered by CFM LEAP-1A engines and seats 186 passengers, Airbus said in a statement on Wednesday.

In 2012, AirAsia received an A320-200 made in Tianjin’s Airbus Final Assembly Line Asia (FALA), becoming the first non-Chinese customer for the facility. The A320neo aircraft AirAsia received recently is an upgraded model based on the A320 design.

“It is a sign that the Airbus FALA in Tianjin will gradually be elevated to a center serving customers across the whole Asia-Pacific instead of only limited to China,” said Eric Chen, president of Airbus Commercial Aircraft China, in an interview with Caixin.

The Airbus FALA was inaugurated in 2008 and was Airbus’s third aircraft final assembly line location worldwide, following in the footsteps of facilities in Toulouse, France; and Hamburg, Germany. As of Oct. 26, about 340 Airbus aircraft assembled in the center have been delivered.

The delivery to AirAsia is good news not only for Airbus but for the Chinese government as well. As one of the world’s biggest purchasers of aircraft, Beijing has lobbied for years to get both Airbus and Boeing Co. to set up production facilities in China and transfer more of their technology to the country.

“We are very proud to receive the first Airbus A320neo fully assembled in Tianjin. We would like to congratulate Airbus as well as the Chinese government for achieving yet another milestone,” AirAsia CEO Aireen Omar said.

Last year, Boeing announced it will build an assembly line in the coastal city of Zhoushan in Zhejiang province as part of a joint venture with Chinese plane-maker Commercial Aircraft Corp. of China Ltd. Construction started earlier this year.

Contact reporter Mo Yelin (yelinmo@caixin.com)

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