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China first bright spot for Airbus since outbreak
Published on: 2020-10-08
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People celebrate near an Airbus A330neo aircraft after its maiden flight event in Colomiers near Toulouse FrancePeople celebrate near an Airbus A330neo aircraft after its maiden flight event in Colomiers near Toulouse, France

China is the first major market where Airbus SE, the European plane maker, has seen a recovery in demand since the novel coronavirus epidemic, according to a top company official.

"We plan to deliver 100 aircraft to Chinese carriers this year and hope that the volume will account for 20 percent of our shipments globally," George Xu, CEO of Airbus China, said in an interview.

China received only 14 aircraft from Airbus during the first six months of the year. But in July and August, another 14 aircraft were received by China, marking a significant improvement in the pace of recovery. Due to the novel coronavirus epidemic, most of the carriers had faced difficulties in aircraft deliveries. In 2019, China received 173 aircraft from Airbus.

"The next few months will be a challenging time for Airbus as it races to meet the delivery goals in China and the Tianjin plant will work at full capacity to meet the requirements," he said.

The Tianjin facility, which has been in operation for more than a decade, serves as the first final assembly line of Airbus for single-aisle aircraft and the first completion center for widebody aircraft outside Europe.

The final assembly line of the Airbus A320 in TianjinThe final assembly line of the Airbus A320 in Tianjin

Lin Zhijie, an aviation industry analyst and a columnist with Carnoc, a leading civil aviation website, said that given the current situation, the China market is more important to Airbus, and there is more room for growth. "The epidemic is basically getting under control in China and the Tianjin facility has fully resumed production. Aircraft deliveries to China will return to a regular level gradually," he said.

"The overseas air travel market has recovered to only 40 percent to 50 percent of the pre-pandemic level, and there is still a long way to go. Besides, the grounding of Boeing B737 MAX aircraft and the uncertainties over Sino-US relations could be an unprecedented growth opportunity for Airbus. And Airbus could even gain an overwhelming advantage if it seizes the chance," Lin said.

China's domestic air travel market is steadily picking up. Since August, the number of scheduled flights in the domestic market exceeded 13,300 daily, and the number of available seats exceeded 2.2 million daily, both numbers reaching nearly 80 percent of the levels recorded last year, according to the Civil Aviation Administration of China.

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