A state-owned aircraft leasing company agreed in principle to buy 45 wide-aircraft from Airbus SAS, a deal estimated at up to $18 billion, according to information released by the jet builder. A general terms agreement and memorandum of understanding were inked in Paris recently by Airbus president and CEO Fabrice Brégier and China Aviation Supplies Holding Co. president and CEO Li Hai.
Final terms and value of the deal have not been released. It’s not known which models of the Airbus A330 family will be selected, nor the delivery schedule for the aircraft.
“The package order is a new vote of confidence in our A330 family aircraft, which is already the most popular wide-body aircraft in China,” stated Brégier. “China is today the most important market for aviation in the world, we can be confident that air transport in China will continue to undergo rapid growth.”
Airbus forecasts China to become the world’s largest market for passenger air traffic within the next decade, including domestic and international routes. Through 2033, Airbus forecasts Chinese demand for new aircraft to total 5,300 new passenger jets and freighters.
The A330 series are medium- to long-range twin-engine jets, carrying 250 to 440 passengers, depending on the configuration, or 150,000 lb. of cargo. The current A330 model will be joined as soon as next year by the A330neo, with a new engine options and other design changes to improve fuel consumption.
Air China and Cathay Pacific are two of the largest operators of A330 jets.
China Aviation Supplies acts as an aircraft procurement agent and provides leasing and support services for aviation supplies for Chinese air carriers. To date, it has signed 21 package-purchase contracts for a total of more than 1,500 aircraft from OEMs like Airbus and Boeing.
As important as the proposed deal will be for Airbus, it may also be a boon for the jet engine suppliers selected to power the forthcoming aircraft. The current Airbus A330 series can be supplied with engines from three of the most prominent engine builders, GE Aviation, Pratt & Whitney, and Rolls-Royce Plc. The A330neo will be powered exclusively by the Rolls-Royce Trent 7000 engine.