Airbus today delivered the first A320 aircraft assembled at its Final Assembly Line China (FALC) in Tianjin. At a grand ceremony, the aircraft was handed over by Airbus president and CEO, Tom Enders, to the chairman of Dragon Aviation Leasing, Li Hai. The aircraft will be leased to and operated by Sichuan Airlines.
''Sichuan Airlines was the first Chinese airline to introduce the A320 Family aircraft in China in 1995. Today, we are proud to become the operator of the first A320 assembled in China. We believe that the Airbus aircraft further enhances our profitability and competitiveness with low operational costs and high reliability,'' said Lan Xinguo, president of Sichuan Airlines.
''Our Final Assembly Line here in Tianjin and this first aircraft delivery outside Europe mark an important milestone in our strategic long-term partnership with China and the Chinese industry,'' said Tom Enders, Airbus president and CEO. ''This FAL is state of the art, second to none in the world. And so are the aircraft manufactured here in Tianjin. I would like to thank all our partners and employees who worked very hard during the last three years to make this happen.''
The A320 to be operated by Sichuan Airlines will be in a two-class configuration, with eight first class seats and 156 economy seats. The aircraft will be deployed on domestic trunk routes between the airline's base of Chengdu to such major cities like Beijing and Shanghai.
The FALC is a joint venture between Airbus and a Chinese consortium comprising Tianjin Free Trade Zone (TJFTZ) and China Aviation Industry Corporation (AVIC). From one aircraft per month in 2009 the FALC production rate will be ramped up to four per month by the end of 2011.
Sichuan Airlines operates 40 Airbus A320 Family aircraft and is the largest airline in China with an all-Airbus fleet.