But Leasing Exceptions Could Place Airliners With Non-Chinese Carriers
Airbus says it will only sell airplanes it builds in China to Chinese clients, but that does not mean that they will never end up flying for other nations' airlines.
An airbus spokesman said that when a Chinese leasing agency purchases aircraft assembled in China, it is possible those airplanes will wind up with non-Chinese airlines, according to a report appearing in the French news service AFP.
The agreement struck in 2005 which led to the establishment of an Airbus factory in Tianjin restricted the sale of airplanes built in China to Chinese companies. The leasing exemption was agreed to before Airbus and the Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC) inked a deal to continue building Airbus airplanes in China through 2026, including assembly of the new A320neo. The French financial publication Les Echos reported that leasing firm ICBC was set to provide an A320 to AirAsia, a low-cost carrier in Malaysia.
There are some 50 A320 airliners on the Airbus' order books for China totaling about $3.5 billion. The Tianjin plant is Airbus' only non-European assembly plant for now, though the planemaker announced in July it would be building a factory in Alabama.