Airbus China has shuffled its top management amid reports that its parent is considering additional production in the country.
Eric Chen, previously president of Airbus Commercial Aircraft China, succeeds Laurence Barron as chairman of Airbus China.
Simultaneously, George Xu has been appointed CEO of Airbus China, responsible for all Airbus Commercial Aircraft activities.
Xu has considerable manufacturing experience, having helped set up the Airbus A320 final assembly line in Tianjin, of which he was chairman from 2011 to 2014.
During a recent visit by French president Emmanuel Macron, Chinese authorities signed a provisional agreement to increase output at Tianjin to six aircraft per month by early 2020, from four at present.
There were also rumours that Airbus would offer to build an A380 cabin completion centre in China as part of an effort to win more orders for the superjumbo from Chinese airlines. A similar finishing centre for the A330, opened last year in China, helped to spur orders for that aircraft.
Thus far only China Southern has ordered the A380, the future of which is increasingly reliant on a new commitment from its biggest customer, Emirates. The Dubai-based carrier, however, wants assurances that A380 production will continue for at least another decade.
During his visit, Macron said that a new order from China for 184 A320 aircraft would be finalised soon, while China stated again that it would seek to retain parity between its orders of Boeing and Airbus aircraft.
However, there was speculation from some quarters that China failed to match the deals announced during Donald Trump’s state visit due to annoyance about Airbus’ proposed takeover of the CSeries programme, which China purportedly had its eye on.
On the other hand, several industry analysts tell MRO Network they think it unlikely that China intended a serious bid for the regional jet programme.