French President Francois Hollande’s two-day visit to Beijing focusing on trade has included China signing a deal with European planemaker Airbus to purchase 60 jets.
The deal partially lifts what Airbus has described as a Chinese boycott
on the purchase of its long haul A330 planes, that followed a row with the European Union over curbing airline emissions.
A large group of French business leaders accompanied Hollande, who is the first leader of a major western country to visit China since the change of leadership there.
Airbus said the order comprised 18 wide-bodied A330s and 42 smaller A320-family jets.
Some European industry officials had hoped for an order of 100 aircraft or more to feed China’s rapid aviation growth.
Carbon emissions row
According to the planemaker, China last year blocked orders for up to 45 A330 planes in protest at EU measures to make foreign airlines pay for carbon emissions.
A group of nations, led by China, argues that the EU’s emissions trading scheme infringes their sovereignty, since it bases the charges on whole trips, including the parts in non-EU airspace.
The EU says such measures are necessary under the bloc’s obligations to tackle pollution.
In November, the EU’s executive Commission agreed to suspend
the scheme for foreign airlines for a year, pending international negotiations and amid warnings of retaliation.
The suspension was officially published just before the Airbus signing ceremony in China.