China is to buy 150 Airbus A320 planes in a deal announced during the visit to France by Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao. The order, announced after Wen’s visit to the Airbus factory in Toulouse, France, trumps one for 70 jets given to Airbus’ US rival Boeing by the Chinese last month. Airbus has been pushing to increase its presence in China, which is one of the world’s fastest-growing markets for air travel. China currently operates 924 passenger planes.
Nearly 60% are US made, by Boeing or McDonnell Douglas, which was taken over by Boeing. Including this order, Airbus will have sold 382 planes to China. A cooperation agreement was signed between the plane maker and China’s National Development Commission. The head of Airbus in France, Jean-Marc Thomas, said that he sees no commercial dangers to that:
“It is very important that Airbus, which is an international company, works more and more closely with this market which is opening up, and that we co-operate in ways where both partners gain.”
The agreement signed in Toulouse could lead to the opening of an Airbus assembly line to build A320 jets in China. Six Chinese companies already make landing gear, doors and other components for Airbus which said it expects to increase, by fourfold, the number of components it will buy from Chinese subcontractors in the next two years.