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Airbus' joint venture plans to benefit regional companies

Habib Fekih (SUPPLIED)

By Nina Varghese

Companies in the Middle East, especially in the UAE, are likely to benefit as aircraft manufacturer Airbus plans to set up joint ventures to sub-contract the manufacture of airline parts, a top executive at Airbus said.

"Airbus is studying some options to set up additional joint ventures in the Middle East and especially in Dubai. We are discussing with parties in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. These joint ventures are multiple and can take different forms like the joint venture with companies in Qatar and Oman for training," said Habib Fekih, President, Airbus Middle East.

The region is an important part of the Airbus' global strategy to 'internationalise' its manufacturing process, he said. "We are studying some joint ventures in the UAE and are discussing with some parties to take this forward," he said. "This is not a gimmick, it is the strategy for the future. We are focusing on locating the right partners. The aim is to lower cost, keep quality and develop efficiencies," he said.

Fekih said: " The joint ventures would cover a range of activities from manufacturing, design, outfitting VIP aircraft to training."

This announcement follows the earlier agreement with Mubadala Aerospace, part of the Abu Dhabi Government's investment arm Mubadala Development Company, to manufacture parts for Airbus. This was the first significant offshoring of Airbus' wide body construction in the Middle East, although China has been manufacturing parts for Airbus.

The partnership between Eads (European Aerospace Defense and Space company), the parent company of Airbus, and Mubadala would allow Eads to extend its footprint in the Middle East in terms of suppliers and production capabilities.

The plant is scheduled to start operations in 2010, producing composite aero structures for Airbus and other manufacturers.

The plant will initially provide spoilers and flap track fairings for the Airbus family. The next phase will see manufacturing of primary structures and components, reports have said.

Mubadala also signed a deal with Boeing and Lockheed for maintenance, repair and overhaul facility in Abu Dhabi.