- China signed an order for 300 Airbus planes on Monday.
- The deal with the European plane-maker is worth about €30 billion ($US34 billion), French government officials told Reuters.
- China’s aviation authority has suspended airworthiness certificates for the 737 Max 8, which is made by Boeing, an Airbus rival.
- The drop in confidence in the Boeing jet came after two of them crashed, killing everyone on board, within five months of each other.
China signed a multibillion-dollar deal with Airbus on Monday, one day before its aviation authority said it had suspended airworthiness certificates for Boeing’s 737 Max 8, the model involved in two deadly crashes in the past five months.
The order, placed by China’s state buying agency, China Aviation Supplies Holding Company, includes 290 aircraft in the A320 family and 10 A350 wide-body jets, Airbus said in a statement.
It’s worth about €30 billion ($US34 billion) at catalogue prices,Reuters described French government officials as saying.
Beijing’s deal with the European aircraft manufacturer came as Chinese President Xi Jinping visited France and met with President Emmanuel Macron and other European Union leaders. Airbus shares rose by 2.7% after the announcement of the deal, Reuters said.
Guillaume Faury, Airbus’ president of commercial aircraft and CEO-designate, said in a statement: “Our expanding footprint in China demonstrate our lasting confidence in the Chinese market and our long-term commitment to China and our partners.”
Chinese airlines operated some 1,730 Airbus aircraft – most of them in the A320 family – at the end of January, the manufacturer said.
Beijing’s order on Monday, characterised by Reuters as larger than expected, came as the country appears to lose confidence in Boeing’s 737 Max 8 aircraft.
Boeing and Airbus are traditional rivals in the plane-manufacturing industry, and the A320 and 737 models have similar passenger capacities.
How Airbus became Boeing’s greatest rival
The Civil Aviation Administration of China has suspended airworthiness certificates for the 737 Max 8 until it can further review the plane, citing ongoing investigations and uncertainties about its design and software modification, Bloomberg and Reuters reported on Tuesday.
Airworthiness certificates are licensed by national aviation authorities for commercial passenger or cargo planes.
The CAAC halted applications for the certificates, Reuters reported, citing an official at the regulator.
Dozens of countries around the world grounded the 737 Max this month after Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 crashed, killing all 157 people on board. That followed the Lion Air Flight 610 crash in October, which killed all 189 people on board.
While investigations into the two crashes are ongoing, authorities have identified multiple similarities. They’re scrutinizing the jet’s Manoeuvring Characteristics Augmentation System, or MCAS, designed to point the nose down if it detects the plane is flying at too steep an incline.
Boeing is reportedly close to completing a software update for its 737 Max jets that it will give airlines for free.
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