Thu, Mar 20, 2014 - Page 15 News List

China in talks with Airbus: sources


A visitor looks at a miniature of an Airbus A350-900 passenger aircraft at Aviation Expo China 2013 in Beijing on Sept. 25 last year.

Photo: Reuters

China is in talks to buy at least 150 Airbus passenger jets potentially worth US$20 billion when Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) pays his first visit to Europe in his current political position at the end of this month, people familiar with the matter said.

In a broad-ranging deal that could help reset trade relations between China and Europe after a bumpy year, China is expected to buy more A330 passenger jets as talks advance to open Airbus’ second major factory in the country.

The “cabin completion” plant for A330s would bolster Airbus’s presence five years after the opening of its first final assembly plant outside Europe in the Chinese port city of Tianjin, where Chinese workers put together A320 jets.

The deal could also involve a decision to unfreeze the purchase of 27 A330s blocked by China during a recent row with the EU over environmental policies.

A spokesman for Airbus, a subsidiary of Airbus Group, previously known as EADS, declined to comment.

Both France and Germany are anxious to establish good ties with China’s leader and announcements on the Airbus deal package of could be made in both countries, European officials said.

The package could also include some A320 and A350 aircraft, people familiar with the matter said.

However, the sources said that the final size of the deal could change and would depend on last-minute talks.

Previous state visits have included tough negotiations on the sidelines.

Xi plans to visit both countries, starting with France where other important industrial deals are expected to be signed, celebrating 50 years since former French president Charles de Gaulle became the first Western leader to recognize China.

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