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China to buy 160 Airbus planes worth $17.4 bln

China has signed an agreement worth $17.4 billion, during French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s visit to Beijing, to buy 160 planes from French company Airbus.

The deal, inked in Beijing, is composed of 110 A320 planes and 50 A330 planes, according to Airbus China. The China Aviation Supplies Import and Export Group Corporation (CASGC) has signed an agreement to buy 150 Airbus planes, and China Southern Airlines, the country’s largest carrier by fleet size, has ordered 10 A330-220s, the company said. China Southern’s purchase was announced by the carrier in October. The 150-aircraft deal sealed with the CASGC, a key state-owned service provider of civil aviation products, was a huge contract compared with previous purchases made by individual carriers.

China’s national flag carrier Air China said earlier it intended to buy 24 Airbus 320 family aircraft with the revenue gained from selling 400 million A-shares. The 500th A330 aircraft made by Airbus was delivered to Hainan Airlines on Nov. 15. Airbus also said it had signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with China’s top economic planner to allow the Chinese aviation industry to participate in the company’s manufacture of its new extra wide-body A350. „Airbus confirms its intention to manufacture 5% of the airframe of the A350 XWB aircraft in China,” the company said in a statement. The MOU was signed by both sides in the presence of Chinese President Hu Jintao and visiting French President Nicolas Sarkozy. „Airbus will actively involve Chinese enterprises in the A350 XWB project to develop the current cooperation and prepare for further possible cooperation for future programs,” said the company. „The NDRC encourages the efforts to further enhance industrial cooperation between the Chinese aviation industry and Airbus,” said Zhang Xiaoqiang, vice minister of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC).

China will continue to be the world’s biggest purchaser of aircraft and engines over the next 20 years, according to a report released by the British engine manufacturer Rolls-Royce in September. The Rolls-Royce report predicted that Chinese airlines would buy more than 3,100 new planes over the next two decades. China has been ordering aircraft from both Airbus and the US-based Boeing, which take a lion’s share of the international market, and both companies see China as an important client for its fast growing market.

Earlier on Monday, China signed an €8 billion deal with the French company Areva to build two reactors in the southern Guangdong Province, part of about 20 cooperation documents inked between China and France during the visit of the French president. (peopledaily.com.cn)