While Boeing lays claim to the status of “China’s leading supplier of passenger airplanes,” Airbus certainly proved itself a worthy competitor for that title last week, as it inked contracts for 102 airliners from China Aviation Supplies Holding Company (CAS). The business included new firm orders for 50 A320-family jets, six A330s and 10 A350XWBs, while the parties confirmed an earlier order for 36 A330s.
China Southern Airlines
China Aviation Supplies Holding Company (CAS) signed contracts with Airbus yesterday covering the delivery of 102 aircraft, including a new firm order for 50 A320-series jets, six A330s and ten A350XWBs. The parties also confirmed an earlier order for 36 A330s, which had already found its way onto Airbus’s order books.
Airbus closed 2009 on a positive commercial note with orders for 85 aircraft received in December–27 from Asia-Pacific customers, including 16 A330-200s for China Eastern Airlines, 10 A320s for Air New Zealand and one A320 for Zest Airways of the Philippines. Despite the continuing weakness of the world economy, the European airframer expects to maintain 2010 orders and deliveries at 2009 levels, especially to China.
The first A320 aircraft assembled outside Europe at the Airbus Final Assembly Line China (FALC) in Tianjin, China, completed its first flight on May 18, a little more than a month before scheduled first delivery to Dragon Aviation Leasing customer Sichuan Airlines. The milestone flight came amid aggressive moves to spark a recovery of China’s airline industry with direct government funding and loans.
Brazil’s Embraer continued to spread its steadily expanding influence among the world’s airlines last month with a 12-aircraft order for 76-seat Embraer 170s from Finnair and the entry into service of a pair of Chinese-built ERJ-145s in the People’s Republic.
Harbin-Embraer–the manufacturing joint venture established in January last year by Brazil’s Embraer and AVIC II subsidiaries Harbin Aircraft and Hafei Aviation–secured a launch order for Chinese- built ERJ-145s from China Southern Airlines last month, ending a tedious wait for evidence of the program’s commercial viability.
The Chinese government has acknowledged that although China’s airlines have improved in airline management and operations, they still lag their major Asian competitors. China’s entry into the World Trade Organization and its continuing march toward a market economy present significant challenges to its airline industry.
China’s red-hot air cargo export market is expected to cool somewhat this year, but domestic demand for new freighters is projected to take off. That was the consensus from last week’s Airfreight Asia conference, held in Shanghai. During the event, EADS-EFW and China Eastern Airlines signed a deal to convert three A300-600s to freighter configuration, with more to come.
The official statistics confirm what the aerospace industry has long anticipated: China’s air transport market is booming. The 2005 annual report of the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) is yet to be published but all the indications are that the growth targets set for last year in the 2004 report were met.
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