FOXTROTS 

Fox – sly.  Trots – left-leaning (Trotsky) plus its more insalubrious meaning.  Foxtrots – leading the industry in a dance. 

 

2007 April 20

 

Aircraft. Making it in China. 

Airbus plans to add an assembly line for A320 aircraft in Tianjin, about 125km east of Beijing. Date for the first aircraft flight has not been given, but Airbus says assembly will begin in early 2009, and it hopes to reach four aircraft per month by 2011. 

 

Indications are that the aircraft will only be for Chinese airlines, but this has not been specified. Airbus partners are the Tianjin Free Trade Zone and China Aviation Industry Corporation.  

 

Airbus is seeking to reduce costs of its assembly plants in Europe, particularly in France. This agreement is a way to present a positive development – increased business with China – rather than negative, reduced activity in France. 

  

At the same time, Airbus has cut its forecast for large-aircraft sales in China from 200 to 113, the equivalent of 44%, and increased its forecast for single-aisle aircraft such as the A320 by 66%. 

  

These changes are presumably to fit in with the Tianjin A320-assembly plans, but certainly discredit the company’s forecasting efforts. 

 

Airbus failed in its previous attempt to build aircraft in China. Its partners at that time were Aviation Industries of China (46%) and Singapore Technologies (a state-owned company; 15%).  

 

The plan was to build a 100‑seat aircraft, the Air Express 100 – initially due to start flying 2002, then 2003, then abandoned. 

 

Before that, in the late-1980s and 1990s, what became a Boeing company assembled about 50 MD80 and MD90 twin-engine aircraft in China. They were planned for China’s airlines, but the last five assembled when the contract was abandoned were bought by Boeing and eventually sold to an airline that is now part of American Airlines. 

  

The Fox