China’s aviation market prepares for competition

Airbus this week delivered the first A350 from its Widebody Completion and Delivery Center in Tianjin (C&DC), China, an important step in expanding its global footprint and long-term strategic partnership with the China.
The A350-900 has been delivered to China Eastern Airlines, the largest Airbus operator in Asia and the second largest in the world. At the end of June 2021, China Eastern Airlines operated an Airbus fleet of 413 aircraft, including 349 A320 Family aircraft, 55 A330 Family aircraft and nine A350 aircraft.
“I am proud that Airbus has succeeded in extending capacity from the C&DC widebody in Tianjin to the A350, the latest next-generation aircraft, at such a difficult time in global aviation,” said George Xu, vice – Executive Chairman of Airbus and CEO of Airbus China. “This is another step in the long-term cooperation between China and Airbus, which once again demonstrates Airbus’ commitment to the country. Congratulations to China Eastern Airlines, our long-term strategic partner, for receiving the first A350 delivered from China, and I appreciate their confidence in Airbus and our products, as always. »
Located on the same site as the Airbus Tianjin A320 Family Final Assembly Line and the Airbus Tianjin Delivery Center, the C&DC widebody covers aircraft completion activities, including the installation of the cabin, aircraft painting and production flight testing, as well as customer flight acceptance and aircraft delivery. .
The center was inaugurated in September 2017 with its capacity on the A330. Then, during the visit of French President Emmanuel Macron to China in 2019, a memorandum of understanding on the further development of industrial cooperation was signed in Beijing by He Lifeng, chairman of the National Development and Reform Commission. (NDRC) of China, and Guillaume Faury, Chairman and CEO of Airbus, announcing that the C&DC will expand its capability to A350 aircraft.
By the end of June 2021, the A350 Family had received 915 firm orders from 49 customers worldwide, making it one of the most successful wide-body aircraft of all time. Elsewhere in China, China’s first passenger plane is about to get approval from Beijing to launch commercial flights. With the launch of the single-aisle C919, an industry dominated by European Airbus and its American rival Boeing faces a new geopolitically influential competitor: the public aerospace company Comac. Comac has announced nearly 1,000 orders and options for the aircraft, mostly from domestic customers. The first delivery, to China Eastern Airlines, is expected by the end of this year. The urgency of the C919 has caused Airbus and Boeing to recognize the inevitable upheaval in competition to come. Guillaume Faury, chief executive of Airbus, recently acknowledged Comac’s rise, telling an industry event “we will probably move from a duopoly to a triopoly, at least on the single-aisle, by the end of the decade”.
While the pandemic has taken the global aviation sector to new lows, China is still on track to become the world’s largest aviation market. Boeing expects the country’s airlines to acquire a total of 8,600 new planes over the next 20 years.
Elsewhere, a group of seven Thai airlines is seeking a total of 5 billion baht ($152.16 million) in low-interest loans from the Thai government to help weather the effects of the coronavirus crisis, a said the Thai Airlines Association yesterday. The seven airlines initially requested $770 million in loans on favorable terms, but did not receive government support.
Last week, Thailand’s aviation regulator halted domestic flights to and from Bangkok as new causes grew. About 170 planes belonging to the seven airlines were grounded and collectively they racked up employment expenses of about 900 million baht per month, the association said in a statement.
The industry group includes Bangkok Airways, low-cost carrier Thai AirAsia, Thai AirAsia X, Thai VietJet, Thai LionAir, Nok Air and Thai Smile, a unit of national carrier Thai Airways.
“If we can secure the loan, we can continue until the end of the year,” said Woranate Laprabang, CEO of Thai VietJet.
In the United States, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has said that some undelivered Boeing 787 Dreamliners have a new build quality issue that the largest US aircraft manufacturer will address before the planes are delivered.
The FAA said this week that the problem is “near the noses of some 787 Dreamliners in the company’s undelivered aircraft inventory. This issue was discovered during the ongoing system-wide inspection of Boeing’s 787 stalling processes required by the FAA.
The FAA added that “although the issue does not pose an immediate threat to flight safety, Boeing is committed to repairing these aircraft before resuming deliveries.”

* The author is an aviation analyst. Twitter username: @AlexInAir