Airbus to boost China output as nears jet deal during Macron trip

Airbus is set to boost production of narrowbody jets in China as it nears a new multi-billion-dollar deal to supply the world’s fastest-growing aviation market during a visit by French President Emmanuel Macron. (Reuters)
Updated 08 January 2018

Airbus to boost China output as nears jet deal during Macron trip

PARIS: Airbus is set to boost production of narrowbody jets in China as it nears a new multi-billion-dollar deal to supply the world’s fastest-growing aviation market during a visit by French President Emmanuel Macron, industry sources said.
The deal is expected to be unveiled together with a package of agreements coinciding with the French leader’s visit, and could include orders for around 100 jetliners, they added.
The final number of jets to be sold has not been determined. China is also said to be shopping for larger jets like the A330.
Airbus declined comment on Monday.
Airbus and its US rival Boeing compete for large-scale orders in China and such package deals are typically rolled out during major diplomatic events, but not without last-minute negotiations on the quantity and price of jets.
Boeing announced a deal for 300 aircraft during a visit to China by President Donald Trump in November.
About one in every four planes that Airbus produces is delivered to China, but fewer than 8 percent are assembled at its Tianjin facility outside Beijing — one of four A320 assembly plants including two in Europe and one in the United States.
Airbus is likely as part of any new airplane order to agree to lift the number of aircraft assembled in Tianjin from the current level of around 50 a year, the sources said.
NO A380 DEAL
The European planemaker is not, however, expected to announce a breakthrough in Chinese support for the 544-seat A380 superjumbo, whose future is threatened by poor sales.
The Financial Times reported earlier that Airbus was offering an industrial partnership on the world’s largest airliner as part of Macron’s visit to China.
Macron is accompanied by industry leaders, including Airbus planemaking president Fabrice Bregier, on his visit.
Industry sources said that Airbus has studied the possibility of selling China a stake in the A380 superjumbo program, but no immediate deal is on the table.
The idea, which has been on the back-burner in Toulouse for some time, would resemble Airbus’s decision to take a stake in the Bombardier CSeries, but so far there has been little traction and no deal is imminent, one source said.
“It’s not tomorrow,” another source added, while others stress the A380’s fate hinges instead on ongoing talks to sell 36 of the jets to Dubai’s Emirates.
An Airbus spokesman said, “We don’t comment on speculation.”
Airbus believes that if the A380’s future can be secured into the next decade, then China is likely to come into the picture because of its frenetic demand growth.
Airbus sees untapped demand for 100 Airbus A380s in China, while Boeing argues that traffic is better served by smaller jets.
The US firm is meanwhile expected to confirm its position as the world’s largest planemaker when it announces 2017 deliveries on Tuesday. It has targeted 760-765 deliveries.
Despite a record December that saw Airbus hand over more than 700 jets for the first time last year, the first delivery of its newest model — the A350-1000 — slipped into 2018 and should happen “early this year,” a spokeswoman said.


Emirates stops flights to three major Australian cities

Updated 16 January 2021

Emirates stops flights to three major Australian cities

  • Flights to/from Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne will be suspended until further notice: Emirates
  • The airline will still run two flights a week to Perth

DUBAI: Emirates has suspended flights to Australia's three largest cities as the country further restricts international arrivals over fears of new virus strains.
The Dubai-based carrier was one of the last to maintain routes into and out of the country's east coast throughout most of the pandemic but on Friday evening told travellers a handful of planned flights next week would be the last.
"Due to operational reasons, Emirates flights to/from Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne will be suspended until further notice," Emirates said on its website.
The airline will still run two flights a week to Perth, but the cuts are another barrier for tens of thousands of stranded Australians still attempting to return home.
The Australian government responded by announcing more repatriation flights and said other carriers still flying services to the cities could fill the gap.
"The capacity that Emirates was able to use within the cap will be allocated to other airlines, ensuring that there are still as many tickets, as many seats available into Australia," Finance Minister Simon Birmingham said.
A small number of airlines - including Qatar Airways and Singapore Airlines - are still running services to Australia but local media were already reporting delays and cancellations among returning travellers.
Australia's borders have effectively been closed since March to curb the spread of the virus, with the government even limiting the number of citizens allowed to return.
Last week travel restrictions were further tightened, with arrival numbers slashed and all travellers into the country requiring a negative Covid-19 test before flying.
In making the changes, Prime Minister Scott Morrison cited a growing number of people in quarantine testing positive for new strains of Covid-19.
Fears that a variant of the virus from Britain, believed to be more contagious, had leaked into Brisbane from hotel quarantine triggered a snap lockdown in the city last week.
"There are many unknowns and uncertainties in relation to the new strain, and so that's why this precautionary approach, we believe, is very sensible," Morrison said.
Australia continues to deal relatively well with the virus, having recorded about 28,600 cases and 909 deaths linked to Covid-19 in a population of 25 million.