French plane-maker Airbus has started construction of a new factory in Tianjin, China – its first widebody completion plant outside Europe.
The firm said the new Airbus A330 Completion and Delivery Centre (C&DC), located next to existing factories in the Tianjin Free Trade Zone, marked a new milestone for its international footprint.
Formal groundbreaking took place on 2 March.
Between now and 2034, the company believes, China will make up 17% of total world demand for new aircraft, a market worth $840bn
"This event is significant because the A330 C&DC in Tianjin is our first completion and delivery centre for widebody aircraft outside Europe," said Fabrice Brégier, Airbus President and CEO.
"Airbus’ long-standing cooperation with China spans single aisle and now also widebody aircraft and we will continue to look for further opportunities in the future," he added.
The new A330 C&DC will finish plane assembly that begins in Toulouse, France. In Tianjin, the aircraft will be painted, have cabins installed and flight tests performed.
Airbus sees China as a major growth market. It says Chinese domestic passenger air traffic is set to grow at 6.9% a year, well above the world average of 4.6%.
Between now and 2034, the company believes, China will make up 17% of total world demand for new aircraft, a market worth some $840bn. It says the Airbus A330 is the most popular widebody aircraft in China.
The new plant results from an agreement signed in the summer of 2014 between Airbus, Tianjin Free Trade Zone and the Aviation Industry Corporation of China.
Photograph: Officials pose for the 2 March groundbreaking ceremony. From left: Duan Chunhua, Vice Mayor Tianjin; Lin Nianxiu, Vice Minister of NDRC; Fabrice Brégier, Airbus President and CEO; and Lin Zuoming, Chairman of AVIC (Airbus)