TIANJIN, June 23 (Xinhua) -- Airbus's assembly plant in north China's Tianjin Municipality plans to roll out 48 A320 aircraft in 2012, nearly doubling its current production capacity, said senior executives of the joint venture Wednesday.
"The assembly line in Tianjin is well on track, and the company is gearing up production and cutting costs to increase efficiency," said Zhao Haishan, chairman of the Tianjin-based Airbus Final Assembly Line China (FALC).
Zhao made the remarks on the occasion of the company's first anniversary of the delivery of the first FALC-assembled A320 plane.
Zhao said the latest data showed the plane, bought by Dragon Aviation Leasing and leased to Sichuan Airlines, had demonstrated excellent performance with a record of 100 percent punctuality and dispatch reliability rate.
As Airbus's first final assembly line outside Europe, FALC delivered its first A320 aircraft on June 23, 2009. Since then, it has delivered 22 Airbus A320 series aircraft to seven Chinese carriers.
"The biggest challenge we faced when we launched the FALC project was the question of quality. One year later, the performance of the aircraft indicates that the quality of aircraft we delivered in Tianjin is at the highest achievable level," said Airbus China President Laurence Barron.
He said at present, 100 of the 500 staff at the Tianjin plant were expatriates from Europe. The company planned to take two to three years to train the Chinese staff. By then, the number of European staff in the plant would be reduced to less than 20, which would further cut costs.
"The financial performance of FALC is better than what we had expected with costs continually going down," said Zhao.
He said FALC has cut costs by procuring more from local suppliers, for example, wings, transportation jigs, ground handling equipments, the quality of which can all meet Airbus's global purchase standards.
FALC is a joint venture between Airbus and a Chinese consortium comprising of Tianjin Free Trade Zone and the Aviation Industry Corporation of China. Airbus holds a 51 percent stake in the company.
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