New Airbus facility under construction in Tianjin

Construction began Wednesday on an Airbus facility in north China's Tianjin, where the company's A330 aircraft will be finished off and delivered to clients.

The European aircraft manufacturer wants to establish itself in China's booming aviation market, where the company faces fierce competition with its U.S. rival Boeing.

It is the company's first "completion and delivery center" for wide-body aircraft outside Europe. The facility will be responsible for cabin installation, painting and flight tests, Airbus said in a statement.

A330 will be assembled in Toulouse, France, before delivery to Tianjin. The first plane is expected to arrive in the metropolis by the end of 2017.

"This action by Airbus moves it closer to Chinese clients and the Chinese market [...] It derives from our confidence in China's future development," Eric Chen, president of Airbus China, told Xinhua.

Chen said despite China's stressful economic transition, Airbus remains optimistic about the aviation market in China, which has overtaken the United States to become the largest buyer of Airbus aircraft.

"We're very confident that in the next 10 or 20 years, there will be strong demand for aircraft in China's aviation market," he said, expecting increased air-travel demand from the country's increasingly mobile population, a growing middle class and easing visa policies by countries hoping to attract Chinese tourists.

Airbus estimates that China will need 5,400 new planes within the next 20 years, accounting for about 17 percent of the global total.

Tianjin already has an assembly line for Airbus A320 models. More than 250 aircraft have been delivered in Tianjin since 2008.

About 24 percent of Airbus aircraft are sold to China every year. On Monday, Air China ordered 12 A330-300 aircraft from the company.

There are presently more than 1,240 Airbus aircraft in use by Chinese airlines. The A330 is the most popular wide-body aircraft in China.

Source: Xinhua