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AEROSPACE
Airbus opens first plane-completion centre in China
by Staff Writers
Tianjin, China (AFP) Sept 20, 2017


Plane stuck in mud as rain causes Mumbai airport chaos
Mumbai (AFP) Sept 20, 2017 - Dozens of flights were diverted from Mumbai after a SpiceJet plane overshot the runway and became stuck in the mud as heavy rain lashed India's financial capital and caused travel chaos Wednesday.

Schools and colleges also closed for the day as a precaution after severe monsoon rain late Tuesday and overnight led to fears of widespread flooding.

The storms came three weeks after ten people were killed when torrential rain deluged Mumbai, flooding homes and railway lines and shutting down the city for two days.

On Wednesday airport officials were trying to move the SpiceJet plane which skidded on landing at around 10:00 pm on Tuesday and forced the closure of the main runway.

All 183 passengers were safely evacuated from the Varanasi to Mumbai flight after it missed the runway and "skidded off into the unpaved surface" due to wet conditions, the airline said in a statement.

"The main runway is out of use due to heavy rains. Only the secondary runway is operational and it can only handle a limited number of flights," Veena Chiplunkar, a spokeswoman for the international airport, told AFP.

Some 56 flights were diverted due to Tuesday night's thunder and lightning storms, she added.

Several other flights had been cancelled while travellers were told to expect delays to departures while the main runway remained closed.

The plane was still stuck Wednesday morning.

Officials had warned of flooding if heavy rain coincided with a high tide, expected around midday, but India's Meteorological Department said the worst had passed.

Railway officials said trains were running normally but many residents decided not to take the risk, opting to work from home.

The city's famed dabbawallahs, who take hundreds of thousands of hot lunches from commuters' homes to offices every day, cancelled their delivery service Wednesday.

Mumbai is regularly deluged by rain between June and September.

In 2005 around 950 millimetres (37 inches) fell on the city in just 24 hours, killing around 500 people.

Airbus on Wednesday inaugurated its first completion centre for large aircraft in China, a new asset for the European manufacturer in heated competition with American rival Boeing.

China is one of the Western manufacturers' key battlegrounds, with its travellers taking to the skies in ever-growing numbers.

In Tianjin, a port city 150 kilometres (93 miles) from Beijing, Airbus already has an assembly line for the single-aisle aircraft A319 and A320, the first of its kind outside Europe.

Now the same site hosts a completion centre for long-haul A330 and its first aircraft was delivered to the local company Tianjin Airlines on Wednesday, accompanied by the playing of cymbals and banging of drums.

"This is the perfect illustration of mutual trust" and "our willingness to embark on a new stage in the Franco-Chinese relationship," said French junior finance minister Benjamin Griveaux, the first member of President Emmanuel Macron's government to visit China.

The 200-million-euro ($240 million) facility will receive A330s assembled in France and will prepare the cabins and apply exterior painting. Two aircraft will be delivered every month.

The A330, operated by nine Chinese airlines, is the most popular wide-body aircraft in the country.

"The inauguration of our (centre) in Tianjin, together with the first of many deliveries, marks a new milestone for Airbus' international footprint," Fabrice Bregier, Airbus chief operating office, said at one of the site's giant halls alongside leaders of the aviation manufacturer Avic, the European firm's Chinese partner.

The majority of Airbus orders in China remain its A320 single-aisle jetliner. But with about 200 A330s in the country's skies, the aircraft manufacturer also controls 61 percent of the long-haul market.

According to the company, China will need about 6,000 airliners over the next two decades, and its demand for large carriers will be boosted by the explosion of Chinese passenger traffic abroad that is increasing at 14 percent per year, said Eric Chen, president of Airbus China.

Having doubled its market share in the space of a decade, Airbus is now on par with Boeing in China. But the American aircraft maker does not intend to be left behind. Next year it will open its own finishing centre for the medium-haul B737 in China.

For its part, the Chinese state aircraft manufacturer Comac intends to jostle the Airbus-Boeing duopoly with its medium-haul C919, which took its maiden flight in May.

jug/jch/lth/dan

AIRBUS GROUP

BOEING

AEROSPACE
Airbus wins $4-bln order from Cathay Pacific
Paris (AFP) Sept 13, 2017
Airbus said Wednesday it has finalised a more than $4 billion order with Cathay Pacific for 32 of its A321neo aircraft to revamp the Hong Kong-based carrier's regional affiliate. The single-aisle medium-haul jets will be operated by Cathay Dragon which flies from Hong Kong to a number of Asian destinations, Airbus said in a statement. A preliminary agreement had been signed in August. ... read more

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