Airbus inaugurates Chinese A330 plant with first delivery.

Airbus has delivered its first Airbus A330 aircraft from its Chinese widebody completion and delivery centre.

The centre,  in the northern coastal city of Tianjin,  was officially inaugurated this week as the European manufacturer handed over the A330 to Tianjin Airlines.

It lauded the new centre as an expansion of its global footprint and its strategic partnership with China.

The widebody facility shares a site with the plane-maker’s A320 family final assembly line and is responsible for aircraft completion activities such as cabin installation, painting and production flight test.

It employs about 150 staff trained at Airbus headquarters in Toulouse and also serves as customer flight acceptance and aircraft delivery centre.

Airbus and China agreed to co-operate on widebody programs in 2014 after the success of the A320 plant.

The narrowbody line was the first outside Europe and began operations during in 2008 as a joint venture between Airbus and a Chinese consortium of Tianjin Free Trade Zone and China Aviation Industry Corporation.

Airbus and rival Boeing see the burgeoning Chinese aviation market as a major opportunity despite moves by the economic superpower to produce its own aircraft.

Chinese domestic traffic has quadrupled in the last 10 years and international traffic has more than doubled. Airbus forecasts the Chinese domestic market

Nine airlines operate A330s in China and the market potential is demonstrated by Tianjin Airlines which had 1484 Airbus aircraft in service at the end of August — 1,282 A320 Family and 202 A330 Family.

Airbus’s new plant comprises a paint shop, weighing hangar and one main hangar with three aircraft positions covering an area of 16,800 square metres.

The manufacturer said the A330 centre would employ more than 250 people and was expected to deliver two aircraft per month by early 2019.

Boeing, which recently increased its forecast for the number of aircraft needed by China over the next two decades, is also ramping up its presence in China with plans to build a 737 completion plant.

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