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Airbus bullish on outlook for wide-body aircraft orders

By Li Xiang in Paris  (China Daily)

13:50, June 21, 2013

European aircraft manufacturer Airbus SAS is bullish about orders from China for its wide-body planes, despite recent difficult negotiations over a carbon tax between China and Europe, the plane manufacturer's Chief Executive Officer Fabrice Bregier said on Thursday.

The company secured 466 orders valued at $68.7 billion at the Paris Air Show. But it did not garner any orders from major Chinese mainland airlines at the show, though it did receive one order from Hong Kong Aviation Capital, a leasing company, to purchase 40 A320neo and 20 A321neo aircraft.

"We suffered a little bit around the discussions with China on the carbon tax which has slowed down the orders for our wide-body aircraft such as the A330. But the orders will pick up again," Bregier said.

Bregier said he expected Airbus's market share in China to reach 50 percent this year.

Airbus China President Eric Chen said winning more market share will be the company's priority in the coming five years in China, a market expected to lead the development of the global aviation industry.

Chen predicted China's demand for the A350 to reach 1,000 while demand for the A380 will be 200 in the next two decades. Airbus' 150-seat aircraft such as the A320 also hold promising market potential in China, he added.

The A350, Airbus' newest mid-size long-range airplane seating 270 to 350 passengers, completed its maiden flight last Friday.

Showcased at the Paris Air Show, the aircraft was seen as a major effort by Airbus to challenge its US rival Boeing Co's 787 Dreamliner in the long-range market.

"Our priority now is to finish all the necessary technical reviews and tests for the A350. I have full confidence in its long-term market success in China," Chen said.

The company has secured one order for 10 A350 aircraft from Air China Ltd, while its super-jumbo A380 has garnered one order for five aircraft from China Southern Airlines Co Ltd.

The market share of Airbus in China's wide-body market exceeds 60 percent.

Chen said that the aviation market in China is a multi-level, fast-developing one and Airbus hopes to capitalize on this trend to meet the demand of the country's airlines.

The company's decision to set up an A320 final assembly line in Tianjin in 2005, its first outside Europe, accelerated its sales in China and expanded its market share by about 20 percent, the company said.

China, which aims to build its own domestic large commercial aircraft, also participated in about 5 percent of the design and manufacturing of the A350's body.

Commenting on China's aspiration to break the Airbus-Boeing duopoly, Chen said: "China used to be a client and partner of Airbus, but it has emerged as a potential competitor.

"What's on our mind is not how to maintain this duopoly but how to maintain our competitive edge when there is a third manufacturer in the market."

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