Airbus and China: reaching new heights

For Airbus, success in China means reciprocal success in Europe. 2018 has seen two major milestones highlighting Airbus’s strong cooperation with China: the 10-year anniversary of Airbus’s first final assembly line (FAL) outside Europe and the opening of an Airbus Helicopters assembly line in China.

Airbus in China: a growth story

Airbus commercial aircraft entered the Chinese market in 1994. Despite rapid growth, our aircraft only commanded a market share of 20 per cent a decade ago. Today Airbus accounts for almost 50 per cent with more than 1600 aircraft already in operations in this fast-growing market and is thus the most important aerospace company in China. The growth of the Chinese market is enormous: by 2020, Airbus aims to deliver its 2000th aircraft to Chinese airlines. 

The relationship between Airbus and China extends far beyond that of producer and buyer.

The establishing of a Final Assembly Line (FAL) for Airbus’s bestselling A320 family in the city of Tianjin ten years ago triggered the beginning of a cooperation which is now seen as a model of Sino-European success, benefitting both China and the European Union. That FAL exemplifies the best of this cooperation: It secures employment along the supply-chain, in manufacturing as well as in the assembling of the aircraft, both in Europe and in China. With free trade being questioned in several countries across the world, Airbus’s internationalisation strategy has given us a competitive advantage in the two largest aerospace markets in the world, the US and China. The successful negotiations between the EU and China on a Comprehensive Agreement on Investment (CAI) are encouraging steps towards preserving good trade relationships.

Helicopters take off in China

Airbus twin engine H135 Helicopter is delivered in Qingdao, China

The opening of the Airbus H135 helicopter plant in the city of Qingdao this year follows the same logic. Airbus entered the Chinese helicopters market 50 years ago and is now market leader with a 40 per cent share: another example for successful Chinese-European collaboration.

Fostering strong relationships: China and the EU

The EU is China’s largest trading partner. Conversely, China is the EU’s second biggest trade partner after the US. In 2015, Airbus and China’s total cooperative value was approximately $500 million.

China is the fastest growing aviation market in the world and is well on its way to becoming the world’s largest. Recently, China has passed reforms that seek to open lower-altitude airspace, shifting flight control from the military to civil aviation authorities. This will pave the way for continuous growth in the Chinese commercial aircraft market.

Employment in the aerospace industry has grown thanks to the close cooperation between Airbus and China. Our presence in what soon will be the world’s largest market has shown how important the relations between China and Europe are. Airbus is looking forward to another 50 years of close and strong cooperation with China.

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