Caught in trade war Boeing opens first 737 assembly line in China
Boeing is strengthening its presence in China. Its first aircraft to come out of a Chinese-based factory, a Boeing 737 Max, was delivered to Air China on December 15, 2018. The final assembly was done in Zhoushan, east of China.
While most of the work is still done in the United States (starting from Seattle), the finishing touches are made on the spot by Boeing, in a partnership with Chinese state-company Comac. The final work revolves around seats, inflight entertainment systems, and toilets. Eventually, the livery should also be painted in China, to the colors of local airlines. Zhoushan facility is capable of hosting every variant of the 737 MAX family. Currently, one out of three of all 737 deliveries goes to a Chinese customer.
"This is a significant milestone of Boeing's efforts to deepen its footprint in China,” said Zhao Yuerang, president of COMAC in an official statement, adding “as well as to support the growth of China's airline industry, opening an era of the collaboration between the two airplane manufacturers of us.”
With Boeing's latest forecasts estimating that China will need 7,680 aircraft worth $1.2 trillion over the next 20 years, it seems natural that the company wants to implant itself as close as possible from its customers. Caught in the middle of the (momentarily suspended) tariffs war between the United States and China, the manufacturer has a vested interest in appeasing tensions.
Airbus has already been present for a decade, with the Tianjin Final Assembly Line, near Beijing. It was the first one for Airbus to be built outside of Europe. This facility is able to deliver its A320 and A330 to Chinese customers.
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