[photopress:concorde_3.jpg,full,alignright]A simple statement which is amazing but true. AVIC I, China’s main state-owned aviation firm, plans to buy all or part of six Airbus factories in Europe, including the historic Filton plant in Bristol, England where the first Concorde flew in 1969.
A spokesman for AVIC I said, ‘Our intention is to buy into all or some of these facilities but we have not reached a final agreement.’
Martin Craigs, president of the Aerospace Forum Asia, said, ‘The Chinese are ready and willing and just waiting for the Europeans to say when and what they are allowed to buy. But there will be some agitated hearts and glistening eyes if people think the crown jewels of British aerospace history are being sold to the Chinese.’
Under an aggressive restructuring plan, known as ‘power 8’, Airbus intends to cut 10,000 jobs and sell all or part of six of its 16 facilities, including two factories in France and three in Germany.
AVIC I’s general manager Lin Zuoming said that if his company were successful in buying the plants it would make a commitment to keep them open and make them into competitive and economical suppliers for Airbus.
It is unclear whether European laws would allow a Chinese state-owned company to purchase such sensitive assets but Airbus has itself already established an assembly plant in the eastern Chinese city of Tianjin, which is scheduled to go into operation next year.
AVIC I is leading a program to produce the first Chinese-made 70-110 seat regional jet by early next year.
Source: Financial Times
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