Airbus CEO Guillaume Faury (L) shakes hands with NDRC Chairman He Lifeng (R) after signing an agreement at the Great Hall of the People during French President Emmanuel Macron's official visit to Beijing on November 6, 2019.
NICOLAS ASFOURI | AFP | Getty Images
Airbus has signed a new agreement with China, designed to extend cooperation and increase both the number and type of jet plans built in the country.
On Wednesday, Airbus chief executive Guillaume Faury and China's National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) leader He Lifeng each signed a Memorandum of Understanding to build more single-aisle and widebody aircraft in China.
The signing ceremony was witnessed by Chinese President Xi Jinping and visiting French President Emanuel Macron.
Airbus wants to build 63 single-aisle aircraft from its A320 series in 2021. To help achieve that global target, it is planned for Airbus's Tianjin factory to ramp up its production this year to six plans a month from the current three.
Airbus said a total of 450 A320 aircraft have now had final assembly at the Tianjin facility since its opening in 2008. The factory line is located about 90 miles southeast of central Beijing.
A widebody "Completion and Delivery Center," opened at the same site in 2017 and has already carried out aircraft completion on the long-range A330 model.
Activities at the C&DC include cabin installations, aircraft painting, and production flight tests.
Airbus said its production line at Tianjin would now look to deliver its first A350 widebody jet at some point by 2021.
"We attach great importance to our long-term strategic importance to China and its aviation industry," Faury said in a statement Wednesday.
China is set to become the world's largest domestic aviation market in the next few years, once it overtakes the United States. Airbus's own forecast predicts that the country will need 7,560 new commercial aircraft over the next 20 years.
Airbus shares rose about 0.33% following the announcement.
Boeing and India
As Airbus looks to strengthen its grip in China, rival Boeing has been noticing the potential of other Asian superpower, India.
Speaking to Reuters on Wednesday, the US plane-maker said India will need 2380 airplanes in the next 20 years, upping its own forecast from last year.
India is currently considered the third largest domestic civil aviation market in the world, but is tipped to leapfrog the US and sit behind China by 2022, according to forecasts from the International Air Transport Association.
Boeing has 2,200 employees in India. In June, the U.S. signed a contract with the Airports Authority of India (AAI) to help develop a new air traffic management system to deal with busier skies.
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