China to order 160 A320s & A330s

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China’s Government has announced orders for 160 Airbus aircraft on behalf of several of the country’s airlines.

The planned bulk order was unveiled in Beijing 26 November during an official visit to China by French president Nicolas Sarkozy.

Airbus’ China office has confirmed to Air Transport Intelligence (ATI),'s premium news service, that a General Terms Agreement was signed today with China Aviation Supplies Import and Export Group covering new orders for A320-family narrowbody aircraft and 40 A330 widebodies.

In addition, a firm purchase agreement was signed today with China Southern Airlines for 10 A330-200s. China Southern announced plans for the 10-aircraft order last month.

No details are available yet on delivery times and on which airlines may be allocated aircraft from the bulk deal, which was signed during an official visit to China by French president Nicolas Sarkozy.

China typically announces large orders for goods during political visits. In the case of aircraft, China Aviation Supplies Import and Export Group signs a framework agreement with a manufacturer, after which aircraft are allocated by the Chinese Government to several of the country’s airlines, which then confirm engine selections and negotiate final agreements.

Missing from today’s bulk order, however, was expected confirmation from China that it will be placing firm orders for 20 A350s.

China inked a letter of intent for 20 A350s in October last year, when the country announced firm orders for 150 A320-family aircraft and confirmed plans for an A320 assembly line near Beijing, but a firm order has yet to be agreed with Airbus.

Airbus has also been hoping for some time that China will take a 5% risk-sharing stake in the A350 programme.