CHINA / National

Chinese airline to buy 50 Airbus jets
Updated: 2006-07-07 10:48

China Southern Airlines Co., one of China's three biggest carriers, said Friday it has agreed to buy 50 Airbus A320 aircraft.

The airline signed an agreement to buy the planes Thursday after its board approved the purchase, it said in a statement published in the China Securities Journal.

Total catalog price of the medium-range jets totals 26.53 billion yuan (US$3.3 billion), but the airline said it would pay less, without giving an exact amount.

The 50 planes will be delivered to the airline from 2009 to 2010.

The deal, however, is still subject to approval by the airline's shareholders, according to the statement. China Southern said it will submit the purchasing plan to an upcoming shareholders' meeting for review. It didn't give the date of the meeting.

Rival airline China Eastern Airlines Co. last week announced the purchase of 30 Airbus 320s.

The announcements came after the Chinese government said last month that it has approved Airbus's plan to open an assembly plant for A320s in the northern city of Tianjin.

Airbus, based in Toulouse, France, and its U.S. rival, Chicago-based Boeing Co., are looking to China's growing aviation market to drive sales in coming decades.

The purchase announced late Monday appeared to be part of a 150-aircraft order from Airbus by six Chinese airlines, announced during a visit by Premier Wen Jiabao to France in December. Wen's first stop in France was the Airbus production base in the southern city of Toulouse.

Airbus has in the past taken about one-third of China's aircraft orders, with Boeing winning about 60 percent.

The airline also said it would fund the deal with bank loans, but hasn't yet signed any agreement with any bank to raise the funds.

China Southern is one of China's three biggest airlines in terms of traffic, along with Air China Ltd. and China Eastern Airlines Corp.