The airline industry is expected to lose $9 billion this year alone, according to the International Air Transport Association, battered by weak travel demand in an economic downturn, high fuel prices and the H1N1 flu pandemic.
The tough economic times have hastened the move toward globalisation, an Airbus strategy that has been criticised by European workers and governments that say it could result in the loss of European technology to a potential jet-making rival.
“There is no cooperation in industry without a certain transfer of knowledge, processes and technology,” said Enders. “It’s not just in China, but everywhere in the world.”
China can often influence that cooperation because of the leverage gained from its huge demand for goods, Reuter`s reports.
China Eastern Airlines, one of the country’s top three carriers, said last week it was committed to buying buy 20 Airbus A320 aircraft for $1.45 billion at list price, as part of a much larger order that China made in 2007.
Chinese firms have ordered more than 700 aircraft from Airbus, the majority of which are in the A320 family.
Enders noted that 15% of Airbus deliveries currently go to China.
“I think that’s very impressive and I have no doubt we will get more orders out of the Chinese market,” he said. “Chinese demand for modern airlines is immense.”
The plane maker has estimated China would need more than 3000 large aircraft by 2025, including 180 super-jumbo passenger jets.
“So for us not to be in China would be a mistake,” Enders said.