BEIJING, Sept. 19 (Xinhua) -- Airbus has planned to channel more energy into tapping the potential of the Chinese market, counting on the rapidly-growing emerging economy to bring fresh opportunities.
"We are fully confident in the Chinese market, which is set to be the largest civil aviation market in the world," Eric Chen, president of Airbus Commercial Aircraft China, said Tuesday at an aviation expo in Beijing.
The aircraft manufacturer predicts the aviation sector in China and other emerging regions will double the pace of mature markets of North America and Western Europe in the next decades.
"Chinese travelers on average took only 0.4 flights in 2016, a quarter of the United States. But China has a population more than four times the latter," Chen said, pointing to enormous room for growth.
More than 50 million international trips were made by Chinese last year, up 22.7 percent from 2015. Chen expects the high growth rate to continue in the future.
The Belt and Road Initiative will create new chances for the sector, Chen said.
"We are committed to the long-term development of the Chinese aviation industry," Chen said, adding that the company has expanded cooperation with Chinese firms in areas including aeronautic manufacturing, air traffic management, and research and technology.
Airbus has five joint ventures in China, covering training and support, engineering, final assembly and composite manufacturing. New industrial cooperation worth 500 million U.S. dollars was reached in 2015 and Airbus believes the figure will hit one billion dollars by 2020.
China introduced the first Airbus aircraft in 1985. Now nearly 1,500 are being operated by Chinese airlines, accounting for around half of the total fleet of aircraft over 100 seats in the country.