EDS-details added by Xinhua writers Wu Qiong, Xiong Zhengyan and Zou Lan
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao (C), Airbus President and Chief Executive Officer Thomas Enders (L) and Chinese Tianjin Party Chief Zhang Gaoli attend the Airbus Tianjin A320 final assemblying line inauguration ceremony in north China's Tianjin Municipality, Sept. 28, 2008. (Xinhua Photo)
TIANJIN, Sept. 28 (Xinhua) -- An A320 final assembly line of the world aircraft giant Airbus, the first of its kind built outside Europe, was officially inaugurated on Sunday in the north China metropolis of Tianjin.
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and Airbus Chief Executive Officer Thomas Enders attended the inauguration ceremony.
The line, a joint venture between Airbus and Tianjin Zhongtian Aviation Industry Investment Co., was built in just 15 months. The first A320 plane it assembles is expected to come off line by summer 2009.
"With the final assembly line here in Tianjin, we deepen and expand our industrial relationship, which is a key pillar of the internationalization strategy of Airbus," Enders said while addressing the ceremony.
The Tianjin assembly line, the third on top of two in Toulouse and Hamburg, is to deliver two types of aircraft of the A320 family -- A319 and A320. The A320 family, which includes the A318,A319, A320 and A321, is recognized as the benchmark single-aisle aircraft family.
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao (2nd L) shakes hands with a staff member of Airbus in north China's Tianjin Municipality Sept. 28, 2008. Wen Jiabao and Airbus President and Chief Executive Officer Thomas Enders attended the Airbus Tianjin A320 final assemblying line inauguration ceremony held here on Sunday.(Xinhua Photo)
The Tianjin line will be able to assemble 44 aircraft a year by2011, plant sources said. The aircraft will be assembled and delivered in China to the same standards as those assembled and delivered in Europe.
"It is an assembly line with the latest state-of-the-art technologies, as it has integrated technologies from both lines in France and Germany," Enders said.
China is the second largest aviation market, and it would be as important as the United States and Europe over the next 20 or 30 years, he said.
According to an estimate by the company last February, the mainland area of China would need more than 3,000 aircraft between2006 and 2025, including 180 super jumbo passenger planes.
In addition to the Tianjin assembly line, Airbus purchased 70 million U.S. dollars worth of high quality components and materials from Chinese companies in 2007 alone.
"This week, we set a new goal of one billion U.S. dollars of annual sourcing from Chinese companies in 2020," Enders announced.
The company earlier said it aimed to triple the annual China sourcing by 2010 to more than 200 million U.S. dollars.
Boeing in the United States and Airbus currently dominate the world's large airplane market, and only manufacturers in the U.S., Europe and Russia own the technologies to build such planes.
China, however, is actively developing such technologies. The country set up its first ever jumbo passenger aircraft company in Shanghai in May, taking a major step forward in its large jet program.
Enders said in Tianjin on Friday that his company hoped to join in China's large plane project, on the sidelines of the two-day 2008 Summer Davos forum.
Analysts believe that China would play a bigger role in the world's aviation industry with the Tianjin line in operation, as final assembly lines stand for a core competitiveness of aviation manufacturers.
"China is an important -- and increasingly important -- part ofthe global aviation family," Enders told Xinhua on Sunday.