updated 1/24/2006 8:32:28 AM ET 2006-01-24T13:32:28

European aircraft maker Airbus SAS is leaning toward building an assembly line for single-aisle aircraft in China, with a decision expected by midyear, a report said Tuesday, citing company chief executive officer Gustav Humbert.

The Toulouse, France-based company is conducting a feasibility study, with help from the government and local companies, on an Airbus joint venture that would manufacture four single-aisle A320 series aircraft per month, the state-run newspaper China Daily reported.

"If everything goes well, the company is expected to make the decision on building the assembly line plant in China in the middle of this year," Humbert was quoted as saying in a written statement.

Airbus staff in charge of public affairs for China were not immediately available for comment.

Airbus A320 series jets are widely used in China, a market dominated by regional routes.

Five companies affiliated with the state aircraft companies AVIC I and AVIC II now make parts for Airbus.

During a recent visit to France by China's premier, Wen Jiabao, the two sides announced an order of 150 A320 jets worth nearly $10 billion.

"China boasts a vast aviation market, so intensifying partnership with China is of great significance," Humbert was quoted as saying.

According to the report, Airbus holds a 29 percent share of the Chinese aircraft market, with U.S. maker Boeing Co. dominating with a 67 percent share.

Copyright 2005 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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