Will Airbus Or Boeing Begin To Source More From Western Suppliers?

Airbus assembly line in China
The Airbus A319/A320 assembly line in Tianjin, China.
Credit: Airbus

Ask the Editors: The Aviation Week Network invites our readers to submit questions to our editors and analysts. We’ll answer them, and if we can’t we’ll reach out to our wide network of experts for advice.

If access to China’s aviation market is limited or closed, do you see Airbus and/or Boeing changing their supply chain strategy to move away from China and source more from Western suppliers?

Aviation Week Beijing Bureau Chief Bradley Perrett responds:  

If China diminished the rewards for buying its parts, Airbus and Boeing would source less from China than otherwise. They might still buy from China if a product were internationally competitive, but there would not be so many contracts placed just for the sake of persuading China to buy aircraft.

This issue may be more important to China than is immediately obvious. The main Chinese supplier to Airbus and Boeing is Avic, a state company with no great reputation for efficiency. It no doubt appreciates the spinoffs it enjoys from Chinese airlines’ huge demand for aircraft.

But sourcing less from China does not necessarily mean sourcing more from Western countries. Manufacturers in other countries may be more cost-competitive than suppliers in China or the West, as evidenced by the rise of aviation supply clusters in places such as Mexico and Morocco. New manufacturing technologies further complicate the issue: Who will have them, and who will be best at using them?

Bradley Perrett

Bradley Perrett covered China, Japan, South Korea and Australia. He is a Mandarin-speaking Australian.