Airbus has scored its first sale of widebody A330s in the fast-growing China market as part of a bulk deal involving 30 aircraft for five airlines. An agreement was signed in Beijing on 25 April covering four A330s, 16 A319s and 10 A320s, to be ordered by state-run China Aviation Supplies Import and Export.

Aircraft will be allocated to Air China, China Eastern Airlines, China Southern Airlines, Hainan Airlines and Sichuan Airlines. All but Hainan - a loyal Boeing customer with 737s and 767s - are existing Airbus operators.

Airbus says it is not able to say which aircraft will go to which airlines, and there are no indications when engine selections will be made. Deliveries are due to begin in 2004.

China Southern is expected to be allocated the majority of the aircraft, however, including all four A330s. Late last year it put in a request to the Chinese government for approval to order the four widebodies and 20 A320 family aircraft (Flight International, 26 November-2 December 2002). It is unclear if it will receive all the narrowbodies it wanted, however.

Airbus has had many sales successes in China with its A320 family of narrowbodies and its older A300 widebody, and limited success with its four-engined A340-300/600. Airbus says its first A330 deal in China represents "a significant breakthrough".

Source: Flight International