Boeing Won’t Follow Airbus With China Plant

Company says it doesn’t believe symbolic investments equal good business partnerships.

Zhuhai, China (AP) – Boeing Co. has no plans to imitate rival Airbus Industrie by opening a Chinese factory, the president of Boeing China said Tuesday, dismissing it as a symbolic step the U.S. aircraft maker doesn’t need to take to win orders.

“We have no plans to set up an assembly line at this time,” David Wang told The Associated Press at China’s biggest air show in this southern city. We do not believe symbolic investments lead to good business partnerships.”

Boeing and Airbus are competing fiercely for market share in China, the world’s fastest-growing aircraft market. Chicago-based Boeing says it expects Chinese carriers to purchase 2,900 new planes worth $280 billion over the next 20 years.

Airbus signed agreements last week to open a final assembly line in China, its first outside Europe, and China ordered 150 mid-size A320 aircraft to be produced there. The planes at the facility in the eastern city of Tianjin will be assembled from components manufactured in Europe.

Boeing is contributing to China’s economy by working with Chinese parts suppliers, Wang said. The company says it has bought Chinese-made components, including doors and wing parts, worth a total of $730 million over the past two decades.

The company also has three Chinese joint ventures, one making advanced materials, another converting used 747 jumbo jets for use as cargo planes and the third to service aircraft.

“We have not demanded more orders” in exchange for those investments, Wang said. “But we think that because we work closely with the Chinese, we will get our fair share.”

Wang was attending the five-day China International Aviation and Aerospace Exhibition, held once every two years in Zhuhai.

Boeing’s displays at the show included a mock-up of part of the passenger cabin of its planned long-range 787 Dreamliner and scale models of its other planes.

Boeing accounts for about 60 percent of the approximately 900 aircraft in China’s commercial fleets, while Airbus says its aircraft account for about 35 percent.

Chinese carriers have signed orders for 220 Boeing aircraft over the past two years, including a cargo version of its planned 777 long-range plane, due to start deliveries in 2008, said Randy Baseler, Boeing’s vice president for marketing.

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