An impressive ceremony attended by over 600 guests marked the official opening of the new Chinese A320 Final Assembly Line in Tianjin, culminating a fast-paced project that built this facility in just 15 months.
Leading today's inauguration were Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao; Zhang Gaoli, the Party's Secretary of Tianjin; and Airbus President and CEO Tom Enders. The ceremony was followed by a visit to the no. 1 A320 aircraft now taking shape on the final assembly line.
Enders recalled that Airbus' relationship with China began almost 25 years ago, when the first A310 was delivered to China Eastern Airlines. With the new Tianjin assembly site, Airbus is deepening and expanding its industrial relationships - which are key pillars of the company's internationalisation strategy, he explained.
The Tianjin facility is the first Airbus final assembly line to operate outside of Europe. Based on Airbus' A320 Family Final Assembly Line in Hamburg, Germany, the Chinese site started operations in August, and is set to deliver its first aircraft to Sichuan Airlines in mid-2009. By 2011, the Chinese assembly line's output will ramp up to four A320/A319s per month.
Prime Minister Wen congratulated the final assembly line project - which is a joint venture involving Airbus and a Chinese consortium of Tianjin Free Trade Zone (TJFTZ) and China Aviation Industry Corporation (AVIC). "We are very glad to see the achievement and the result of this cooperation," he said.
More than 430 Airbus aircraft are in service with Chinese airlines, and approximately 15 per cent of Airbus' total production is delivered to China. The country is the world's second largest market for civil aircraft, and in the next 20 years it is expected to require nearly 3,000 new civil aircraft and freighters.
Watch the video
from the opening ceremony of the new Chinese A320 Final Assembly Line in Tianjin.