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Airbus expects A380 sales to rise in China

SHANGHAI, Apr 7 – Airbus expects to sell more A380 aircraft in China in the coming years, despite only one Chinese carrier ordering the superjumbo so far, the plane maker\’s China president said Thursday.

Laurence Barron told an industry forum in Shanghai that China was expected to account for a fifth of the Toulouse, France-based company\’s global sales this year.

"We\’re pretty confident in the coming years we\’ll sell more A380s in China," he told reporters. "We certainly don\’t have to wait 10 years" for demand for A380s to pick up in China.

China Southern Airlines, the country\’s biggest carrier by fleet size, has ordered five A380s, the first of which are slated to be delivered in the third quarter, Barron said.

But other Chinese carriers have been slow to warm to the double-decker plane, he added.

The A380 is the world\’s largest passenger jet with capacity for up to 853 passengers and entered into service in 2007, breaking US rival Boeing\’s more than three decades of dominance of the jumbo jet market with the 747.

In March, Boeing got a boost when state-owned flag carrier Air China bought five of its new 747-8 Intercontinental jets, becoming the third airline to order the stretched passenger jumbo after Lufthansa and Korean Air.

Airbus has forecast that Asia will emerge as the world\’s biggest aircraft market by 2029, accounting for a third of worldwide deliveries as the region\’s growing middle class drives travel demand.

Within the next 20 years, Airbus expects China to become the second biggest aviation market in the world.

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Airbus\’ goal is to gain half of the China market by 2012, compared with 39 percent market share in 2008 and up from seven percent in 1995.

China\’s air travel market is growing fast with a total of 267 million air passenger trips in 2010, up 15.8 percent from the previous year, according to official figures.

China plans to invest more than 1.5 trillion yuan ($230 billion) in its aviation industry over the next five years to meet surging demand, Li Jiaxiang, head of the Civil Aviation Administration of China, said in February.

The country aims to expand its aircraft fleet to more than 4,500 planes by 2015 from over 2,600 at present and increase its number of commercial airports to 220 from the current 175.

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