Airbus is getting closer to a firm order for the upgraded variant of its A320 aircraft in China after securing commitments for 100 of the re-engined, more fuel-efficient planes, including some deals already announced.
The deals for 320neo aircraft must be approved by the Chinese government before they can be added to the Airbus backlog, Airbus China president Eric Chen told a specialist news briefing, according to Flightglobal.
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The company is also in discussions for hundreds more A320neos with potential Chinese buyers, Chen was quoted as saying.
An Airbus spokesman confirmed the remarks.
Both Airbus and Boeing are locked in a fierce battle for customers in the market for narrowbody jets like the Airbus A320 and Boeing 737.
China will take delivery of 3,900 such aircraft over the next 20 years, Boeing said in its latest forecast earlier this month, making it potentially the largest market for both companies.
Boeing's upgraded 737 MAX and the A320neo have secured some 3,800 combined orders, but have not secured a firm order from China despite longstanding discussions.
Sixty of the A320 commitments are for Chinese flag carrier Air China <601111.SS>. These are part of a previously announced order for 100 A320s that the Beijing-based carrier made in May.
Another 20 were previously announced by state-owned lessor ICBC Leasing. Airbus did not say who ordered the remaining 20.
Airbus has invested heavily in China and also manufactures the existing variant of the A320 at a facility in Tianjin.
(Reporting by Siva Govindasamy; Editing by Tim Hepher and Greg Mahlich)