European plane maker Airbus said on Tuesday that it was hopeful that more international customers would come to China for aircraft deliveries, according to a top company official.
Airbus' comments came after Connecticut, United States-based GECAS, a subsidiary of General Electric, on Tuesday became the first foreign aircraft lessor to take delivery of an A320neo aircraft assembled at the company's final assembly line in Tianjin from its own order-book.
The aircraft, which will be leased by Chinese regional carrier Colorful Guizhou Airlines, is rich testimony to China's strong manufacturing capabilities, Airbus said.
"Making the delivery in Tianjin was a logical solution for the Chinese customers of GECAS. Due to the ongoing pandemic, we decided to provide local solutions for aircraft delivery. This has been a good start, and we hope more international aircraft lessors will take deliveries in Tianjin," said George Xu, CEO of Airbus China.
"We expect local deliveries to rise as a result of the new dual-circulation strategy introduced by the Chinese authorities. It will also promote internal circulation in the country. China was the first major market where Airbus saw a recovery since the pandemic and we will continue the investment in China and strengthen cooperation with Chinese partners," Xu said.
So far, Airbus has delivered 509 aircraft assembled in Tianjin. The Tianjin center, which has been in operation for 12 years, has helped Airbus increase its market share in the country and steal a march over its US rival Boeing Co. Besides, Airbus has A320 family production facilities globally in Toulouse of France, Hamburg of Germany, and Mobile, Alabama of the United States.
During the first quarter of the year, Airbus delivered 6 percent of its new aircraft globally to customers in China. In the fourth quarter, the deliveries rose to 25 percent of the total, showing a trajectory of recovery. China has made significant contributions for the recovery in the global aviation market, Airbus said.
Tianjin facility is one of the first companies to recover business operations in Tianjin since the pandemic, with the support from the local government. The company plans to start deliveries of wide-body A350 aircraft from its completion and delivery center in Tianjin from next year.
"The ongoing pandemic has had a significant impact on the manufacturing and delivery of aircraft globally, and some carriers can't take delivery of their aircraft due to travel restrictions posted by different countries," said Lin Zhijie, an aviation industry analyst and a columnist of Carnoc, one of the largest civil aviation websites in China.
"The pandemic has been brought under better control in China, and it did not have a major impact on the capacity of the Tianjin facility of Airbus. The Tianjin center has served as a more convenient choice for Chinese customers to take deliveries," Lin said.