Airbus unveils $10bn Chinese deal
Business - 2005-12-11 - European aircraft maker Airbus has agreed to sell 150 A320 planes to China in a deal worth almost $10bn (£5.7bn)
The agreement is a major boost for the manufacturer as it battles US rival Boeing for supremacy in the world's fastest growing aviation market.
The planes, seating up to 185 people, will be used by six Chinese carriers.
The deal was signed during a meeting between Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao and his French counterpart Dominique de Villepin on Monday.
Aviation experts said the deal was worth about $9.7bn to Airbus.
Airbus and Boeing are engaged in fierce competition to meet the demands of China's airlines.
Boeing, which currently controls 70% of the Chinese market, signed a $4bn deal to supply 70 aircraft to China last month.
Airbus has been looking to grab a much larger slice of China's civil aviation market, in which it currently has a 28% market share.
Vote of confidence
Airbus chief executive Gustav Humbert said the deal showed a "new and significant vote of confidence in our best-selling aircraft family from our Chinese customers".
Airbus has sold 216 aircraft from the A320 series - consisting of A319, A320 and A321 planes - to China since 1995.
The planes are single-aisle aircraft, with a capacity ranging from 107 to 185 seats.
The planes will be shared between Air China, China Eastern Airlines, China Southern Airlines, Sichuan Airlines, Shenzhen Airlines and Hainan Airlines.
Chinese officials said they were looking forward to an "ever closer" relationship with Airbus.
"We are very pleased to sign the record-breaking agreement with Airbus today and to be a part of this historic order for China," said Li Hai, president of China Aviation Supplies Import and Export Group.
Made in China?
Airbus and Boeing are both benefiting from huge demand for civilian aircraft in China, where annual passenger traffic is expected to rise to 500 million by 2010.
Airbus has already signed an agreement to increase industrial co-operation with Beijing.
The agreement, signed during Mr Wen's visit to Airbus' Toulouse headquarters on Sunday, could see the European aircraft maker assembling some planes in China.
Airbus is owned by pan-European aerospace firm EADS and British defence company BAE Systems.
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