Tianjin expansion: Airbus continues to pressure Boeing with A321 from China

The European aircraft manufacturer is also now building the A321 in Tianjin. While Airbus is expanding, Boeing is struggling in the important Chinese market.

China is powerful – also in aviation. The People’s Republic will soon overtake the US as the largest air travel market. Airports Council International expects the Asian country to handle 3.5 billion passengers a year by 2040 — 17 percent more than the United States.

Experts estimate that China will account for a quarter of demand for new aircraft. However, Boeing cannot use this potential for now. Because the American group has huge problems in the People’s Republic. A trade war sparked by former President Donald Trump and rising political and military tensions over Taiwan are to blame.

Boeing hardly sells in China

Boeing is already feeling it. Over the past five years, the Americans have received orders from China for only 16 aircraft. Three were for the 737 Max, which is still banned from flying in the country. 13 were cargo ships (777 F), with the Americans still having a de facto monopoly. Archrival Airbus, on the other hand, sold more than 300 aircraft to the People’s Republic in 2022 alone.

Airbus soon positioned itself strategically in China. The Europeans have been building planes in Tianjin since 2008 and more than 600 A320s have already been built there. Since last year, the manufacturer has also been finishing the A330 and A350 there. Long-range aircraft receive their cabin and paint in China and are also tested there before being handed over to the customer.

Airbus supports cooperation

Now Airbus has started building the A321 in Tianjin as well. On Wednesday (November 9), production began on the first example, which should be handed over to the customer in early 2023. “The Airbus Tianjin team successfully completed the relevant adaptation work in close cooperation with European experts and according to plan,” comments George Xu, the Chinese head of the manufacturer planes.

The production expansion is “the latest move in China.” According to Xu, it shows “unwavering support for the Chinese market”. Local production of the largest short- and medium-distance model gives the European manufacturer another advantage in the People’s Republic. With the massive growth in domestic traffic – experts expect volume to triple – there will be a lot of demand for A321-sized aircraft.

But China is also creating its own competition

With the Comac C919, the Chinese aviation industry is creating its own competitor. The short- and medium-haul aircraft received type certification in September. The first machine will be delivered to a China Eastern customer in mid-December. With up to 174 seats, it is as large as the Airbus A320 or Boeing 737 Max 8, but significantly smaller than the A321 or 737 Max 9 and 10.

To Hamburg. Toulouse and Mobile in the US, Tianjin is the fourth final assembly plant for the Airbus A320 and A321.

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