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COVER STORY: A Top Level Insight into Airbus Tianjin Delivery Centre, Dialogue with Dr. Christoph Schrempp, General Manager of Airbus Tianjin Delivery Centre
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A Top Level Insight into

Airbus Tianjin Delivery Centre

Dialogue with Dr. Christoph Schrempp,

General Manager of Airbus Tianjin Delivery Centre

and Chairman, Tianjin Board, European Chamber of Commerce in China

By Josh Cooper

cs2There aren't many companies in Tianjin that represent better the city's industrial leadership in the past 10 years in China and set a good example of a successful international partnership. We have the opportunity to talk with Dr. Christoph Schrempp, General Manager of Airbus Tianjin Delivery Centre and Chairman, Tianjin Board, of the European Chamber of Commerce in China, about the actual situation of aerospace industry and European business in China. Dr. Schrempp is a high-flying business leader who, after earning a number of prestigious academic accolades has gone on to enjoy a successful career with global aircraft manufacturing behemoth Airbus.

Now after ten plus years of working in a variety of management positions for the world beating European aerospace firm and with almost twenty years of experience in the aviation industry, Dr. Schrempp is the ideal person to provide a perspective on what is happening in this booming sector. Last month our editorial team visited the Airbus Tianjin site to find out more about this incredible company and the man who has been responsible for taking its Tianjin Delivery Centre to new heights.

Please could you briefly introduce yourself to our readers?
I am currently serving as General Manager at the Airbus Tianjin Delivery Centre. During my academic career I completed a master's degree and earned a PhD in aerospace engineering at Stuttgart University. I joined Airbus in 2006 and up to now I have held a number of positions in the company which have been related to quality control and operations aspects of the organisation. I have been working here in Tianjin since August 2013. Consequently I now have more than twenty years of experience in aerospace engineering and business.

Tell us a bit about your role as the GM of Airbus Tianjin Delivery Centre.

cs1 hlAs the General Manager here I am responsible for ensuring that our customers get their aircraft on time and at the right cost. Most importantly it is my job to make sure that the products we deliver are of the best possible quality. There is certainly no room for compromise when it comes to quality in this industry. Meeting delivery deadlines is also crucial to our success. It is our firm commitment to our clients that we deliver every single aircraft on the precise day that we have agreed upon. In many cases the airlines will put the new aircraft into operation the day after it has been delivered. Thus it is vital that we meet our targets and I do everything I can to support our hardworking team.

cs1What is the process that you and your team at Airbus follow when carrying out a product delivery?
The delivery process we follow at the Tianjin site is exactly the same as in any of our delivery centres around the world. Firstly we open with a short welcome meeting for our clients in which we give all the participants a brief overview of the delivery process and inform them about the status of the aircraft. Then we normally take customers to conduct an outside inspection of the aircraft. At that point we do engine runs and ideally we allow them to fly the plane in order to see if it meets their specifications. After that we systematically close all of the technical items, which then allows us to issue a document that confirms that the aircraft has been built in compliance with the rules, regulations and design of the model. This allows the customer to obtain the necessary certifications of airworthiness from the Chinese government. Finally we enter the commercial phase, in which the customer transfers specified funds to our account and upon receiving payment we execute the bill of sale and issue the transfer of title. The standard timeframe for all of this is four days.

Give us a brief insight into the corporate structure of Airbus Delivery Centre.
We currently have around 60 employees at the Delivery Centre and about 500 in Airbus Tianjin site as a whole. Our team is comprised of staff members from all over the globe, although we now have a lower percentage of expatriates as many of them have completed their coaching duties at the site and have moved back to our European bases of operation.

Airbus Tianjin Delivery Centre is a very lean organisation. We have a relatively flat structure - there is only one layer of management between me and the team. The deferent departments are clearly divided based on the different functions that they perform within the delivery process, from engineering and quality assurance staff to support services who deal with administrative aspects.

cs1 hl2What kinds of aircraft are being manufactured and delivered to customers from this site at the moment? Will that change in future?
Currently the site is gearing towards assembling and delivering single aisled aircrafts. Specifically they are the A320 and A319 models. Most of the demand is for the A320, due to its larger capacity. We are looking forward to completing and delivering A330 and perhaps other models as well in the near future. Our first delivery of an A330 aircraft from the Tianjin site is scheduled for September 2017.

cs3What are some of the things Airbus is doing to maintain its strong track record of placing social corporate responsibility at the centre of its business model?
Environmental protection is absolutely paramount in what we do here in Tianjin and around the world. We are always looking at ways that we can raise our internal company standards and make it possible for other organisations to do the same. Our team is constantly looking for innovative ways to make our manufacturing process as environmentally friendly as possible. For example, here on the site we have systems in place to regain energy and reduce energy consumption. With regards to our aircraft, it is imperative that we make them more fuel efficient in order to reduce carbon emissions.

How would you evaluate the current situation in your industry? Has the slowdown in the Chinese economy had much of an impact?
On the whole the global aviation industry is still good. The strong market demand we have seen from China in recent years is persisting. It is still the fastest growing market for commercial aircraft in the world. It will soon overtake the United States as the world's largest market for our products.

Up to now we have not seen a slowdown in demand for our products and services, in spite of what may be happening in the broader economy. The market demand is basically driven by two factors: replacement of older aircraft models which consume more fuel and are generally less efficient and rapid growth of air traffic in the country due to the increasing wealth of its population.

cs1 hl3Which subsectors of the Chinese airline industry are providing most of the demand right now? Is it the established major players or the thriving budget carriers?
We are seeing strong demand coming from every segment of the industry. The bigger carriers are expanding their fleets, as are relative newcomers to the market. Anyone who visits our site will notice that we are in the process of delivering aircraft to a wide variety of airlines.

cs5Can you tell us about any new projects that are currently in the pipeline at Airbus Tianjin?
The most exciting development for us at the moment is assembling and delivering of the new product. It will be a much bigger aircraft than the ones we have here at the moment. As I said earlier, we have a very short timeframe from now till the first delivery of the A330 which is scheduled to take place next year so we are working hard to ensure everything goes according to plan. This presents a good opportunity for people here to develop. It will be a huge aircraft with more complexity involved, especially inside the cabins - which will be installed here.

As a prominent business leader and Chairman, Tianjin Board, of the European Chamber Commerce in China, give us your opinion about Tianjin's future prospects as a global business hub.
I like Tianjin very much. I have really enjoyed my stay here so far and I am very thankful to be here. Over the last few years I have had the privilege of watching it evolve into an even more modern and important international business centre. Here in the Free Trade Zone there are plenty of opportunities for other multinational companies to make a footprint. The city certainly has a lot to offer them. Its geographic location on the coast and close proximity to the capital, as well as increasingly high level of human capital and things like international airport are particularly good selling points. Going forward the integration of the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei area will also present some unique opportunities.

Would you care to make any comments about challenges and concerns that European companies are having in China at the moment?
Speaking as the Chairman of the Tianjin Board of the European Chamber of Commerce in China, I am pleased to say that we will soon be launching our latest business confidence survey. The information we glean from that will allow us to provide a great insight into the real feelings and concerns that our members have about doing business in China. We will be inviting organisations such as Business Tianjin to discuss our findings and share some of the European business community's perspectives with your readers.


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