Airbus, today, officially opened its first final assembly line outside of Europe. The Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, together with the Party's Secretary of Tianjin, Zhang Gaoli and Airbus President and CEO Tom Enders inaugurated the Airbus A320 Family Final Assembly Line in Tianjin, China (FALC) at a grand ceremony with over 600 guests.

The final assembly line is a joint venture between Airbus and a Chinese consortium comprising Tianjin Free Trade Zone (TJFTZ) and China Aviation Industry Corporation (AVIC).

"The Tianjin final assembly line for Airbus A320 Family aircraft has been set as a paradigm of Sino-European friendship and cooperation. Based on mutual trust and close-knit cooperation, the two parties have commenced the final assembly of the first aircraft within only one year and three months from the beginning of the facility construction till present and created a miracle in the history of this giant project," said Huang Xingguo, mayor of Tianjin.

"The opening of the FALC is an historic event for Airbus and for the aviation industry," said Tom Enders, President and CEO of Airbus. "The first Airbus final assembly line outside Europe highlights the importance we attach to growing our partnership with China, one of the most important aviation markets today and certainly tomorrow."

The FALC in Tianjin is based on the latest state-of-the-art Airbus single aisle final assembly line in Hamburg, Germany. The aircraft will be assembled and delivered in China to the same standards as those assembled and delivered in Europe.

The first aircraft assembled in the FALC will be delivered to Sichuan Airlines through Dragon Aviation Leasing in mid 2009. The FALC will ramp up production to four aircraft a month by 2011.

The FALC is a demonstration of Airbus' commitment to forging a long-term strategic partnership with China. Six Chinese manufacturers are already involved in manufacturing parts, such as wing components, emergency-exit doors and assembly and transportation tools for Airbus aircraft. In 2007 alone, Airbus sourced $70 million worth of high quality components and materials from Chinese companies. By 2010, Airbus purchasing from the Chinese aviation industry will almost treble to $200 million, before more than doubling again to $450 million by 2015.

By the end of August, there were 351 Airbus A320 Family aircraft in operation with 12 operators in China and over 400 on order.

The A320 Family, which includes the A318, A319, A320 and A321, is recognized as the benchmark single-aisle aircraft family. Each aircraft features fly by wire controls and all share a unique cockpit and operational commonality across the range. More than 6,300 Airbus A320 Family aircraft have been sold and more than 3,500 delivered to some 280 customers and operators worldwide, making it the world's best selling commercial jetliner ever. With proven reliability and extended servicing periods, the A320 Family has the lowest operating costs of any single aisle aircraft. Uniquely, the A320 Family offers a containerized cargo system, which is compatible with the world wide standard wide-body system.

Airbus is an EADS company.