Airbus plans to build a second plant in China after winning an order for 45 A330 Family aircraft from China Aviation Supplies Holding Company in China.
The deal also includes an option for 30 additional A330s. The deal for the 45 aircraft is worth at least $11bn (£7.0bn, €9.87bn)
Airbus chief executive Fabrice Bregier said on 30 June that the company has been negotiating for about 18 months to set up an A330 'cabin completion centre' in China, alongside its existing final assembly plant for smaller A320 jets in Tianjin, a northern port city in China.
Reuters reported that an agreement to build a plant with a capacity of fitting out two A330s a month is expected to be signed during a visit to Toulouse by Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang on Thursday (2 July).
"We are going to launch the project. I think we have a good base. We hope to have more orders in the future, but it's a project which makes a lot of sense and which gives us an advantage against our competition," Bregier told Reuters.
The plant is expected to cost around €150m (£106m, $167m).
The news agency noted that the deal with China, on the back of the recent sale of 20 aircraft to Saudi Arabia, lifts uncertainty over the production levels of the A330, which Airbus has been forced to reduce while preparing to revamp the profitable but ageing jet with new engines.
"This should help us a lot to maintain a production rate of six a month that we announced for the transition," Bregier said.
Airbus has design and manufacturing facilities in France, Germany, the UK and Spain, and subsidiaries in the US, China, India, Japan and the Middle East.
The General Terms Agreement for the 45 Airbus and Memorandum of Understanding for the optional 30 A330s were signed in Paris by Bregier and China Aviation Supplies' President and Chief Executive Officer Li Hai in Paris.
"China is today the most important market for aviation in the world, and we can be confident that air transport in China will continue to undergo rapid growth. We are honoured to contribute to this development, " Bregier said.
In a statement released by Airbus, the company said according to its market forecast, China will become the leading country for passenger air traffic, for both domestic and international markets, noting that the passenger traffic in the country is growing well above the world average.
Domestic air traffic in China will become the world's number one within 10 years.
Airbus said that it is forecasting that there will be a demand in China for more than 5,300 new commercial passenger aircraft sized over 100 seats plus freighters over 2014 to 2033.