BERLIN: China Aviation Supplies Holding Company (CAS) has signed a mega deal with Airbus a General Terms Agreement (GTA) for the purchase of a total of 140 aircraft. The agreement comprises of 100 A320 Family aircraft and 40 A350 XWB Family aircraft, reflecting the strong demand of Chinese airlines in all market segments including domestic, low cost, regional and international long haul.
The agreement was signed in Berlin by Tom Enders, Airbus CEO, and Sun Bo, Executive Vice President of CAS, in the presence of visiting Chinese President Xi Jinping and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
“This big order is a great endorsement for our leading products in both single aisle and wide body segments”, said Tom Enders. “China is today one of the world’s most important markets for aviation, and we are honoured to support the development and rapid growth of China’s civil aviation with our competitive product portfolio.”
The A320 planes will be a mixture of the older CEO and the new NEO version with revamped engines, while the majority of the A350 orders are for the -900 model. The deal is flexible pending negotiations with the airlines.
Enders said he expected up to 50 per cent of the A320 family planes would come from the Airbus final assembly line in China.
Enders was making his first public appearance since Airbus rolled out a new structure, completing a recent merger between its parent company and its dominant plane making arm, changes which included a shift in the reporting line for its commercial sales team to Enders.
Enders said the shift in reporting lines for the sales team reflected the fact that commercial aircraft head Fabrice Bregier had been given more tasks in his new role as group-wide chief operating officer.
With orders slowing and the focus shifting to the backlog, Enders said the shake-up allows Bregier to concentrate on deliveries.
“This is merely a burden sharing mechanism because the focus should be on execution and this is what it’s all about,” Enders said.
“We have plenty of challenges on the execution side, be it the transition to the NEO, the ramp-up of the A320 family, the 350 family, not to mention the A400M, which is not entirely solved,” he said.
Enders also said the group was in talks with the Chinese over the A380 superjumbo, which has suffered slow sales.
Xi’s visit comes as China promotes it “Belt and Road” project, its biggest foreign initiative to date as Beijing looks for global stature to match its economic success. It calls for expanding trade across Asia, Africa and Europe with multibillion-dollar investments in ports, railways and other facilities.