General Electric Capital Aviation (GECAS) has signed lease agreements with two Chinese airlines to supply additional Airbus Industrie A320s, to supplement the large number ordered by China in 1996.

China Northwest Airlines and Zhejiang Airlines have each signed letters of intent with GECAS for two more A320s. The two carriers are waiting for final approval from the Civil Aviation Administration of China to take early delivery of the four A320s, ahead of those ordered from Airbus.

The first two CFM International CFM56-powered aircraft are due for delivery to China Northwest and Zhejiang in August. Xian-based China Northwest plans to take its second in September, while Zhejiang will take the final aircraft in December.

As part of a wider China Aviation Supplies (CASC) order in June 1996 for 30 A320s, ten have already been allocated to China Northwest for delivery from November and three will go to Zhejiang in 1998.

China Northwest's longer-term hope is to receive up to eight more aircraft as part of a second narrowbody order now being negotiated.

Industry sources say that the deal could also include further A340s. Chengdu-based China Southwest is understood to want around three A340s to serve Lhasa, in Tibet.

Source: Flight International