In response to the rise of the Chinese manufacturer COMAC, Airbus and Boeing have ended their punitive tariffs with each other. Indeed COMAC is currently inseparable from both manufacturers in producing aircraft. But this may not last, as China sets up its industry to meet domestic needs. Here are the details.
Will the new Chinese manufacturer COMAC succeed in keeping pace with the Airbus-Boeing duo ? For several years now, China has been gaining power in the highly strategic aviation sector, which represents the largest market in the world. This situation is worrying Europe and the United States, which have decided to close ranks.
Recently, the United States and the European Union decided to suspend their mutual punitive tariffs for five years. They want to put an end to an old conflict between them concerning public aid to their aircraft manufacturers.
According to US President Joe Biden, it is a matter of "jointly challenging and confronting China's non-commercial behavior in the field (of aviation). The country would use practices that have given Chinese companies an unfair advantage". In this context, Beijing has fortuitously launched its national aircraft manufacturer. This is obviously Comac.
The company is developing a twin-engine plane, the C919, designed to compete with the A320 and the B737. After four years of test flights, COMAC hopes to have the C919 certified in China this year to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Chinese Communist Party.
According to calculations by Scott Kennedy, a research fellow at the China International Strategy Center (CISC), the aircraft has received between $49 and $72 billion in government subsidies for its development. This far exceeds the aid received by Airbus and Boeing.
As for Richard Aboulafia, head of aeronautics at Teal Group, he points out that the real problem is that China is manipulating the market. It is playing Airbus and Boeing off against each other to compete better.
Boeing has announced that the Chinese market will need 9,360 aircraft over the next 20 years, which represents 20% of global demand for new aircraft.
Although Beijing cannot make progress without Boeing or Airbus for the time being, it intends to become independent before long. For China, theaeronautics industry is both a tool for growth and a diplomatic and commercial tool. These tools allow it to formulate a very comprehensive foreign policy on foreign markets.
In fact, there is no doubt that the Chinese have the industrial skills needed to build an aircraft. The C919 relies on cooperation with European and American manufacturers. For example, 14 of the 82 major parts suppliers for the aircraft are from Chinese manufacturers , and only 7 are from foreign companies.