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Airbus sees no serious impact on China plane market from slowing economy

[BEIJING] Airbus said it expects China's aviation market, the world's second-largest, to come out relatively unscathed from the country's economic slowdown and provide demand for 5,400 new airplanes over the next 20 years.

The European planemaker is also considering boosting its bets on China, and is studying if it should increase the production rate there at its A320 assembly line, Airbus China chief Eric Chen told a media briefing in Beijing.

Airbus set up the A320 line in Tianjin in 2008, which is located adjacent to a new A330 completion and delivery centre. Mr Chen said ahead of a ground-breaking ceremony for the centre that Airbus expects the new A330 centre to deliver a jet per month starting in 2017, rising to two per month in the following two years.

Despite China's economic slowdown, aircraft manufacturers like Airbus and Boeing remain buoyant about the long-term demand for air travel in the country.

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The number of Chinese leisure travellers going overseas for the first time topped 100 million in 2014, official data shows. Foreign travel is tipped to grow another 10 per cent this year as the United States, France and Australia ease visa policies.

State-owned carriers Air China, China Eastern Airlines, China Southern Airlines and their subsidiaries dominate the Chinese airline market, but they increasingly face stiff competition from HNA Group subsidiary Hainan Airlines and budget airline Spring Airlines.

Aircraft leasing firms owned by Chinese banks and companies are also becoming an important source of planes globally.

Collectively, these airlines and leasing firms have placed orders for hundreds of Airbus and Boeing aircraft worth tens of billions of dollars.

REUTERS

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