China finally goes NEO

It took a State visit from French President Emmanuel Macron to push things along but Airbus is finally able to deliver its A320neo family aircraft for service to Chinese airlines. The first A321neo operating in the country was delivered to China Southern today. (Clarification: Not the first A320neo family aircraft, just the first A321neo; and the delays in getting the family operational in China were pretty bad.)

Delivery was held up by a lack of certification from the CAAC, China’s aviation regulatory body. The A350 was similarly affected. Following Macron’s visit that CAAC approval was granted, though all parties continue to insist that it was a technical review, not politics, that gummed up the works.

Macron also pushed a 184 jet order – still to be finalized – as part of the trip. Airbus also announced an increase in A320 aircraft production at the Tianjin to 6 per month from the current 4. That growth will come in the next two years, though talk of Airbus efforts to increase global output to 70 single-aisle aircraft per month faces significant pushback from its supply chain, particularly engine manufacturers.

Missing from the China/Airbus deal was a commitment to shift some production aspects of the A380 super jumbo to the country. That option had been dangled as a motivation to induce orders of the double-decker aircraft. It fell short though the production line received a reprieve in the form of another add-on order from Emirates a week later.


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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.


    1. This is the first A321neo and they were held up by CAAC certification delays. Macron’s visit was broadly seen as the tipping point for getting the CAAC approval done.

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