Boeing and China’s Comac have agreed to build a new 737 completions factory in the People’s Republic in one of a series of agreements signed during Chinese president Xi Jinping’s visit to Seattle on Wednesday. The deals included an order for 300 Boeing jets involving China Aviation Supplies Holding Company, ICBC Financial Leasing and China Development Bank Leasing. According to a statement released by Boeing on Wednesday afternoon, the so-called general terms agreement covers 190 B737s and 50 widebodies for Chinese airlines and another 60 B737s for ICBC and CDB Leasing.
“Boeing airplanes have played an important role in supporting the development of China’s aviation transportation for the past 40 years," said Li Hai, president of China Aviation Supplies Holding Company. “These additional airplanes will further help connect the people in China and around the world.”
"China is a critical international market for commercial airplanes,” added Boeing Commercial Airplanes president and CEO Ray Conner. “We thank our Chinese customers for selecting fuel-efficient Boeing airplanes to meet their fleet growth and expansion.”
Under the deal involving the new factory, which extends into 2020, the two sides have agreed to enhance industrial cooperation, expand scale of production and jointly develop “green” aviation technologies and “world-class air transportation systems.” Boeing has also agreed to authorize China’s AVIC to increase its production of parts for the 747-8.
As expected, news of the deal had already drawn protest from the International Association of Machinists, the union representing Boeing mechanics in the Puget Sound region, including the 737 plant in Renton.
“Our union must reiterate that any movement of aerospace work from our members and other aerospace workers in Washington state gives rise for great concern,” IAM District 751 said in a statement. “We understand the importance of selling airplanes to customers around the world; however, the work we perform here seems to be what is offered as a bargaining chip to fill aerospace manufacturing across the country and the world. Where is the commitment to our communities?”
*This article was updated with additional information at 3:30 p.m. on September 23.