China has placed a large order on behalf of three of its biggest airlines for about 300 Airbus jets, the country’s first major purchase of new planes since before the pandemic. Beijing, which normally buys aircraft for its airlines, was one of the biggest and most important jet buyers before the pandemic. Boeing has repeatedly cited China as key to its own production growth plans.
The American company, however, lost to rival Airbus in the order announced on Friday, although this does not prevent a future agreement. China Southern Airlines — the biggest customer for Boeing’s troubled 737 MAX in China — was among three airlines buying Airbus jets. China Southern, Air China and China Eastern Airlines are expected to receive a total of 292 new aircraft starting in 2023, the companies said in separate statements. Together, the deals are valued at $37 billion before the usual discounts given to airlines, according to the statements.
When Covid-19 first emerged in China, the country’s airlines were among the first to cancel flights, starting what would become a global hibernation for air travel. Airlines around the world stopped buying new planes and Airbus and Boeing cut production. But the lifting of restrictions in much of the world has again triggered rising demand for travel – and for new jets.
Air travel in China, however, has been underperforming the rest of the world. After a rapid resumption of domestic flights, demand has dropped again as the country battles Covid-19 outbreaks. In May, with the Shanghai lockdown, domestic ticket sales were down 77% year-on-year. Source: Dow Jones Newswires.
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