China may buy 50-70 Airbus A330 jets: sources

Tue Jun 23, 2015 12:21pm EDT
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By Tim Hepher and John Irish

PARIS (Reuters) - Airbus is in talks to sell some 50-70 A330 wide-body jets to China as part of plans to set up a new industrial plant in the world's fastest-growing aviation market, sources familiar with the discussions said on Tuesday.

Airbus has been negotiating for about 18 months to establish an A330 cabin-completion center in China alongside its existing final assembly plant for smaller A320 jets at the northern port city of Tianjin.

The deals could be signed during a visit to Toulouse, where Airbus is based, by Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang on July 1, senior French sources said, though industry watchers note that there have been false starts in the long-awaited planes and investment package.

Airbus declined to comment.

China frequently times major aircraft purchases to coincide with diplomatic visits, but deals can be changed or postponed at the last minute.

Li is due to visit France as part of a European trip which starts at the end of June.

China's commercial jet order, which could be worth up to $16 billion at list prices, is expected to include a mixture of standard A330-300 long-haul jets and a 'Regional' version optimized for domestic and short regional flights.

Airbus won its first customer for the A330 Regional with an order from Saudi Arabian Airlines at last week's Paris Airshow.   Continued...

Airbus's company logo is pictured at the Airbus headquarters in Toulouse, December 4, 2014.  REUTERS/ Regis Duvignau