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First A320 aircraft made at its Chinese factory

Airbus delivers first Chinese-built aircraft

Airbus has delivered the first A320 aircraft made at its Chinese factory, saying the event symbolised its long-term focus on the Chinese aviation market. Airbus hopes the plant in the northern city of Tianjin will deliver a big advantage over arch rival Boeing. The latter makes components in China, but Airbus is the first to have a full production facility in the country, as it vies to meet fast-growing Chinese demand for commercial aircraft. The plane has been delivered to leasing firm Dragon Aviation, and will be used by Chinese carrier Sichuan Airlines.

Airbus plans to delivery a further nine planes from its Chinese plant by the end of the year, with production expected to increase to four aircraft per month before the end of 2011. The plant is 51% owned by Airbus, with the remaining 49% owned by a Chinese aviation consortium.

China is now the world’s second-largest market for commercial aircraft, and is expected to buy up to 2,800 passenger planes over the next 20 years. Tianjin mayor Huang Xingguo said the delivery of the first Chinese-made Airbus was "a historic day" for Sino-European cooperation. "We will further cooperate to write a new chapter in Chinese and European cooperation," he added.