Could the Boeing Co. follow its European rival, Airbus Group, by finishing twin-aisle jetliners in China as the two companies compete for sales in the world’s biggest airplane market?
Airbus began work this week on a new wide-body jetliner delivery center in Tianjin, China. In 2008, it opened a final assembly line there for its popular single-aisle A320.
Boeing plans to open a finishing center for its 737 jetliner in China. That country’s leaders have identified aerospace as a strategic industry to develop en route to becoming an advanced nation. So, Beijing is pressuring both Boeing and Airbus to do more work in-country.
There is speculation in the aerospace industry — and concerns among Boeing workers in metro Puget Sound — that Boeing plans to turn it into a 737 final assembly line. Though, Boeing sources have told me the company is too concerned about industrial espionage to move final assembly to China.
That still leaves room for a finishing and delivery center for twin-aisle jetliners in the country.
Airbus followed its Tianjin assembly center in 2015 by opening an A320 final assembly lines in Mobile, Alabama, to help sell planes in the U.S. The company’s first airplane completed in Mobile, an A321 for JetBlue Airways, is ready for flight tests with delivery slated for later this year.