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Chinese Airbus delivered to airline

CHINA Eastern Airlines yesterday took delivery of its first Chinese-assembled Airbus jet from Final Assembly Line China in Tianjin, Airbus's first assembly center outside Europe.

"The A320 jet is one of the most profitable jets for China Eastern, and we plan to introduce more than 40 A320 jets in coming years," said Zhang Jianzhong, vice general manager of the Shanghai-based airline.

The country's third-largest carrier was the first to introduce Airbus jets to the domestic fleet, and it now has 147 Airbus planes now, more than any other carrier in the Asia Pacific region.

The Tianjin factory will assemble 11 jets this year, including seven A320 jets and four A319 jets, and will produce four airplanes monthly in 2011.

The factory has already delivered three jets to Sichuan Airlines, Deer Air and Shenzhen Airlines.

The Tianjin facility, a joint venture between Airbus and Tianjin Zhongtian Aviation Industry Investment Co, began operations last September with a total estimated investment of 8 billion yuan (US$1.17 billion) to 10 billion yuan.

The factory has an order book of nearly 300 airplanes up to 2016. Airbus accelerated cooperation with Chinese firms as it seeks to tap strong air traffic demand in the world's second-largest aviation market and competes with its rival Boeing.

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


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