Airbus is to open a second Final Assembly Line (FAL) at its Chinese plant in Tianjin before the end of 2025. CEO Guillaume Faury signed a contract today with the Tianjin Free Trade Zone Investment Company Ltd. and Aviation Industry Corporation of China Ltd. during the state visit of French President Emmanuel Macron. The signing ceremony was attended by Chinese President Xi Jinping. Airbus to build second assembly line in Tianjin.
The second assembly line grows the contribution of Tianjin to the overall production capacity of Airbus. Tianjin was opened in 2008 but produced A320ceo family aircraft at very low numbers in its first decade. The first A320neo was produced in Tianjin in 2017, followed by fuselage equipping in 2021. A ramp-up of production coincided with the Covid crisis. Last year, Airbus converted the line to make it suitable for both the A320neo and A321neo. The first Chinese-built A321neo was delivered in March to Juneyao Airlines.
With a second line in full operation in late 2025, Tianjin will be the tenth A320neo-assembly line in the world. Airbus currently has four FALs in Hamburg and two A320neo lines in Toulouse, plus combined A320neo/A321neo lines in Tianjin and Mobile (Alabama). One of the A320neo lines in Toulouse will be closed, but Airbus is currently slowly building the first A321neo on a new line in the former A380 FAL. This line should be fully up and running in 2025. Add to this the new line in Tianjin and a second mixed line that should open in Mobile by the end of 2024 or early 2025, and that makes ten lines for the A320 family.
Airbus will need this capacity, as it wants to ramp up production of the A320neo family to 75 aircraft per month in 2026. That’s already two years later than originally planned, but continued supply chain issues have forced the OEM to review its plans already twice.
Allocation of ordered aircraft
Airbus signed another contract today in Beijing: a General Terms of Agreement with China Aviation Supplies Holding Company, which is a state-owned company that oversees the supply of aircraft and equipment to Chinese airlines. The agreement includes the allocation of 150 A320neo family and ten A350-900s that were ordered by Chinese customers earlier. Last July, China Eastern Airlines, China Southern Airlines, and Air China placed orders for 292 A320neo family aircraft.
A third agreement was signed between Airbus and the China National Aviation Fuel Group (CNAF). This is a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to intensify Chinese-European cooperation on the production, competitive application, and common standards formulation for Sustainable Aviation Fuels (SAF). The two parties signed a contract in September 2022 to support commercial and delivery flights in China to be operated with SAF. The new agreement aims at optimizing the SAF supply chain by diversifying the sources and enhancing SAF production towards the ambition of using 10 percent SAF by 2030.“We are honored to continue our long-standing cooperation by supporting China’s civil aviation growth with our leading families of aircraft. It underpins the positive recovery momentum and prosperous outlook for the Chinese aviation market and the desire to grow sustainably with Airbus’ latest generation, eco-efficient aircraft,” said Guillaume Faury in a media statement.
Active as a journalist since 1987, with a background in newspapers, magazines, and a regional news station, Richard has been covering commercial aviation on a freelance basis since late 2016.
In 2022, he has gone full-time freelance. Richard has been contributing to AirInsight since December 2018. He is also writing for Airliner World and Aviation News and until July 1 2023 in a part-time role with Dutch website and magazine Luchtvaartnieuws. Twitter: @rschuur_aero.