Boeing is beginning to enjoy a revival in the number of its passenger aircraft being ordered and leased by Chinese carriers, as political relations between Beijing and Washington continue to show signs of improvement.

After a year in which Boeing recorded total sales of only three aircraft in China, the US manufacturer has announced its second order from a Chinese carrier in as many weeks. The latest order is from China Yunnan Airlines for two Boeing 737-300s, valued at $68 million.

On 9 January, flag carrier Air China finalised a long-awaited order for two more Boeing 747-400s. The aircraft originally formed part of larger order for five 747s and ten 777s which was shelved because of growing tension with the USA.

Air China was finally forced to order the first three 747s in July 1996, or risk a delay in deliveries of the aircraft.

Meanwhile, Xinjiang Airlines has signed a letter of intent with International Lease Finance to lease a Boeing 757 from November and has dispatched personnel to Beijing for training. It is still looking for another two 757s for delivery this year as part of a longer-term plan to acquire up to 15 757s and 737s, along with a small number of AI(R) ATR 72s. (Flight International, 4-10 December, 1996). Other recently concluded leasing deals include three 737-300s from General Electric capital for delivery to China General Aviation in May, June and July, while Boullioun Aviation Services has signed an agreement to lease three 737-300/ 400s to China Xinhua Airlines.

Xiamen Airlines and China Southwest Airlines are also trying to find additional aircraft available for lease this year, with the former looking for two 737-500s and a 757 and the latter wanting up to three 737-300s as early as May.

Hainan Airlines chairman Chen Feng, in the meantime, has confirmed plans for the carrier to be the first Chinese airline to purchase the next-generation 737. It already has an agreement in place to order three 737-800s, with options for three more. The deal, along with an order for four 737-400s and three 767s is still waiting for Government approval (Flight International, 30 October -5 November, 1996).

Further north, Zhejiang Airlines and China Northwest Airlines are each trying to lease two Airbus Industrie A320s in advance of new aircraft being delivered in 1998. General Electric Capital and Singapore Aircraft Leasing Enterprise are thought to have been approached, although the latter does not take delivery of its own A320s until 1998.


Source: Flight International