BEIJING/PARIS: Plans for a new Airbus assembly line in China, announced during a visit to Beijing by French President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday, will bolster the planemaker’s plans for increases in output while leaving spare capacity, its CEO said on Thursday.

Guillaume Faury told reporters the expansion underpinned plans to lift output to 75 a month in 2026, from 45 at end-2022, while all the company’s plants would be able to handle the in-demand but industrially complex A321neo, the largest variant.

Airbus has been assembling A320-family planes in the northern port city of Tianjin since 2008. The existing line there is running at four planes a month, with plans to reach capacity of six a month later this year, Faury said.

The new line will double this capacity on paper, depending on the type and complexity of model being assembled.

China represents over 20% of the aircraft market and is also bringing its own competing plane, the C919, onto the market.

Chinese air travel is rebounding after extended COVID-19 lockdowns, with domestic traffic back to pre-pandemic levels since March, while international traffic is at about 30% of 2019 levels.

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