Airbus failed to secure an A380 order from China as hoped for during an official visit by French president Jacques Chirac on 9 October, but two Chinese airlines are still seeking government approval to order around 10 passenger variants.

Airbus has been pushing for an A380 deal from China and was hoping to announce the first for the type from Chinese carriers during Chirac's visit (Flight International, 21-27 September). No deal was confirmed, but industry sources say Air China and China Southern Airlines will order A380s if government approval is secured.

Airbus chief executive Noel Forgeard, who accompanied Chirac to China, said after the visit last week that he had "very, very positive discussions" with the country's major airlines. He believes "one of them is going to buy five [A380s] and that is going to happen soon because they would want delivery before the Olympics [in Beijing] in 2008. This has been confirmed at the highest level during our trip."

Some believe China's failure to approve the A380 deals is linked to efforts to have a European Union embargo on arms sales to the country lifted.

Others believe China's leadership felt it would be politically insensitive to announce a high-profile Airbus order before the US presidential election.

Source: Flight International