Air China has disclosed plans to acquire 18 Airbus A320neos from GECAS subsidiaray AFS Investments.

The deal, announced by the Star Alliance carrier in a stock market statement today, covers five A320neos and 13 A321neos.

Air China Airbus A320

Source: Markus Mainka/Shutterstock

Airbus will deliver the aircraft to AFS in batches before 2022, which will then in turn be delivered to Air China.

Air China says it will use a mix of its own funds, commercial bank loans, or other financial methods for the transaction.

The airline points to the rapid improvement in the Chinese domestic market as a reason for acquiring the aircraft. ”This transaction is conducive to the replenishment of the group’s capacity, making the group’s operating costs more competitive in the market,” the airline says.

While Air China is an existing Airbus narrowbody customer, the deal would mark its first commitment to A320neo-family aircraft, having most recently acquired Boeing 737 Max single-aisles.