Airbus to help China enter plane seat market amid Western delays
PARIS, July 2 (Reuters) - Airbus is to help China set up production of aircraft seats and galleys in a move to ease shortages and delays that have threatened disruption to global aircraft production.
Planemakers including Airbus, Boeing and Embraer have been wrestling for more than a year with delayed deliveries of aircraft seats or galleys from suppliers including France's Zodiac Aerospace.
Its main rival, B/E Aerospace of the United States, has also been reported by U.S. media to have suffered some supply delays.
The decision to help foster the development of seats and galleys in China was among a set of agreements signed during a visit to Toulouse by Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang on Thursday.
Airbus officials believe there are too few suppliers of cabin equipment to keep up with the rapid increases in aircraft production.
"With the increases we are seeing in aircraft production at Airbus and other manufacturers, you have seen all the reports of problems ... so there is clearly a need to bring in new suppliers," Eric Zanin, head of the A330 programme, told reporters during the signing ceremony.
"We can't be at the mercy of two or three large cabin suppliers who have difficulty in increasing production."
Zodiac has said it is confident of eliminating delays in seat production by the end of its Sept/August fiscal year.
B/E Aerospace did not respond to a request to comment. (Reporting by Tim Hepher in Toulouse and Alwyn Scott in Seatttle; Editing by Alison Williams)
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