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. In his role as country head of Airbus China, Xu is responsible for all Airbus commercial aircraft activities and for leading the company’s helicopter, defense and space businesses in China.

The news comes in just after Airbus announced strengthening its industrial ties with China. the company signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the National Development and Reform Commission of China agreeing to enhance their industrial partnership in Tianjin and strengthen the cooperation with regards to technical innovation, engineering capabilities and supply chain expansion on January 9, 2017.

During the visit of the French government to China on January 8-10, Airbus took the opportunity to strengthen its industrial ties by agreeing to upsize the production rate in Tianjin. The French manufacturer in turn was expected to sell hundreds of planes, most notably the A380, but so far the anticipated order is nowhere in sight.

“It’s my privilege to have been working with Airbus for more than 20 years. As the Chairman of Airbus China, I will continue to support Airbus’ development in China. We have a dynamic team here, and with the fresh blood like George joining our management team, I look forward to an even more promising future of Airbus China,” said Chen.

“I feel honoured to re-join Airbus China as its CEO. China has the largest Airbus fleet in the world and will continue as one of the fastest growing aviation markets in the next decades. My predecessors and the Airbus China team have achieved great successes in China. I commit to keeping the momentum going and to continue working closely with our teams to achieve new successes. I am confident China will continue to play a key role in Airbus global strategy,” said Xu.

Xu started his career in the Tianjin Economic and Technology Development Area Administrative Committee in 1995 and was promoted to Deputy Director of the Investment Promotion Bureau of the Tianjin Free Trade Zone in 2003, and then Director of the Bureau in 2005.

In 2005, Xu started to work on Airbus A320 Final Assembly Line programme in China jointly initiated by Airbus and its Chinese partners. In 2008, he was appointed Deputy General Manager of the Airbus A320 Family Final Assembly Line in Tianjin while remaining Director of the Investment Promotion Bureau of the Tianjin Free Trade Zone Administrative Committee.

Xu was Chairman of the Board of the Airbus A320 Family Final Assembly Line and, in parallel, Vice President of the Tianjin Free Trade Zone Administrative Committee in 2011 until 2014.  That same year, Xu became Party Secretary of the Tianjin Youth League.

Xu received a Bachelor’s degree in Information Management Systems from Tianjin University and a Master’s degree in Business Administration from Roosevelt University of Chicago. He also received a PhD in Economics from Nankai University.