Airbus delivers first China-assembled A320 jet

Last Updated: Tue, Jun 23, 2009 11:30 hrs

, June 23 (Xinhua) Airbus delivered its first China-assembled A320 jet Tuesday in the northern port city of Tianjin, the base of the manufacturer's only final assembly line outside Europe.

The plane was delivered to Beijing-based Dragon Aviation Leasing, which will lease it to Sichuan Airlines. The plane will first fly on the Chengdu-Beijing route Wednesday.

The aircraft had a successful four-hour test flight May 18 from the Tianjin Binhai International Airport.

'Our final assembly line here in Tianjin and this first aircraft delivery outside Europe mark an important milestone in our partnership with China and the Chinese industry,' said Airbus president and CEO Thomas Enders, at the delivery ceremony.

Another A320 plane assembled by the Tianjin plant conducted a successful test flight Monday afternoon, according to Jean Luc Charles, general manager of the Airbus (Tianjin) Final Assembly Line. It will be delivered to Hainan Airlines by the end of July.

The factory is expected to deliver a total of 11 A320 aircraft this year to Dragon Aviation Leasing and domestic carriers such as China Eastern Airlines, Hainan Airlines and Shenzhen Airlines.

Airbus would deliver 70 aircraft to China this year, said Laurence Barron, president of Airbus China, at a press conference after the delivery.

The Tianjin assembly plant started operation in September 2008 with an investment of more than 7 billion yuan ($1 billion).

It is 51 percent owned by Airbus and 49 percent owned by Tianjin Zhongtian Aviation Industry Investment, a Chinese consortium that includes Tianjin Free Trade Zone and China Aviation Industry Corporation.

According to industry estimates, China will need about 3,000 passenger aircraft over the next 20 years.

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