Airbus Industrie said this week it may manufacture aircraft wings in conjunction with a partner in China.
Airbus’s decision is based on its prediction that China’s air traffic growth will outpace the world’s in the next 20 years.
Rolf Rue, President of Airbus Industrie China, said at the Airshow China ’98 exhibition in Zhuhai: ‘While we have decided with our Chinese partner not to proceed with one project [the development of a 100-seater aircraft], we are evaluating an alternative one. Manufacturing of wing parts or possibly a whole wing is being considered’.
All wings for Airbus airliners are currently produced by British Aerospace at its Chester and Filton plants. BAe Airbus’s head office in Toulouse said it was unaware of Rue’s statement and the nature of work with China was still being discussed.
Chris Geoghegan, strategic adviser to Airbus and former boss of BAe Airbus, is known to be keen on the idea of establishing an A320 wing plant in China, which would be in addition to the UK production line.
Airbus predicted airlines traffic in China will grow at an average of 8% a year between now and 2017.
Chinese airlines would need to buy 1,381 aircraft with 70 or more seats, worth US$130bn (£78bn), by 2017 to cope with traffic growth and to replace ageing aircraft.