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Airbus mainland expansion in fast lane

AIRBUS SAS yesterday began construction on a new plant in Harbin with a group of Chinese partners with the aim of producing major components for the A350 XWB.

The program is part of Airbus' target of producing 5 percent of the A350 XWB frames in China.

The new facility, the Harbin Hafei Airbus Composite Manufacturing Center Co Ltd, covers more than 30,000 square meters and is scheduled to be operational by the end of 2010.

Harbin Aircraft Industry Group Co Ltd holds a 50 percent stake in the venture and Airbus holds a 20 percent stake. Hafei Aviation Industry Co Ltd, Avichina Industry & Technology Co Ltd and Harbin Development Zone Heli Infrastructure Development Co Ltd each hold a 10 percent stake.

"As the new plant enters service by the end of 2010, the manufacturing center will be able to manufacture composite parts and assemble composite work packages for the A350 XWB and A320 families and future Airbus programs, applying state-of-the-art Airbus processes, methods and quality requirements," said Laurence Barron, president of Airbus China.

Airbus is committed to a long-term strategic partnership with China. The total value of industrial cooperation between Airbus and the Chinese aviation industry is expected to be close to US$200 million annually in 2010 and US$450 million in 2015.

The plane maker delivered its first Chinese-assembled A320 jet at its Tianjin plant last week.

Airbus has accelerated cooperation with Chinese firms recently as it seeks to tap into the world's second-largest aviation market.

Chinese mainland airlines plan to fly 700 million passengers annually by 2020, compared with 192 million of last year, according to Li Jiaxiang, director of the Civil Aviation Administration of China.


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