Airbus A350 delivery in Tianjin marks aviation milestone in China
China Eastern Airlines became the recipient of the first Airbus A350-900 wide-body aircraft completed at the latter's wide-body aircraft completion and delivery center in Tianjin on Wednesday. The delivery marks the European plane maker's deepening of its long-term commitment to China, Airbus' largest market.
The wide-body completion and delivery center in Tianjin serve as the only such facility for Airbus outside of Europe. This year, Airbus plans to deliver five A350s from Tianjin to Chinese airlines. China Eastern Airlines is the largest Airbus operator in Asia and the second-largest globally.
Airbus said it has sent experts from Toulouse to China to train staff members at the Tianjin center for the complete work of the A350. The center is responsible for cabin installation, aircraft painting, flight tests, customer acceptance, and aircraft delivery. In the first half of this year, Airbus delivered 64 aircraft in all to Chinese airlines, accounting for 21.5 percent of its global deliveries, indicating a strong recovery of China's civil aviation market since the pandemic was brought under better control in the country.
In the first half, 245 million passenger trips were handled by commercial flights in China, up 66 percent year-on-year, and reached 76 percent of the level seen in the same period of 2019 before the pandemic, according to the Civil Aviation Administration of China. The Harbin Hafei Airbus Composite Manufacturing Center, a joint venture of Airbus and its Chinese industrial partners, is playing an important role in the global supply chain of Airbus by producing composite-material components for the A350 planes.
Airbus said it would like to cooperate with more Chinese suppliers as the latter provide top-quality products at competitive prices. It also hopes to cooperate with more technology firms in China in areas like interior installations. Airbus' continued investments in China have helped it to increase its market share to 52.5 percent in the country and steal a march over its US rival Boeing Co. The latter boasts around 48 percent market share, making the local market a virtual duopoly.
The A350 features a carbon-fiber fuselage and wings, and it can reduce 25 percent of fuel burn and carbon dioxide emissions compared with other wide-body aircraft. As of the end of June, the A350 family had received 915 firm orders from 49 customers worldwide. Airbus said it will continue to promote sustainable aviation fuel and expects to launch the first hydrogen-fueled aircraft before 2035.