The Chinese aviation industry is investing in 300 Airbus planes, delivering a blow to Boeing as the American company continues to deal with the fallout from the safety issues related to two recently downed 737 jets.
China Aviation Supplies Holding Company (CAS), a Chinese leasing company, will buy a total of 300 Airbus aircraft, the companies announced on Monday during Chinese President Xi Jinping visit with French President Emmanuel Macron. Underscoring the political significance of the deal, both leaders were present at the signing of the agreement.
“We are honored to support the growth of China’s civil aviation with our leading aircraft families – single aisle and widebodies,” Guillaume Faury, President of Airbus Commercial Aircraft and Airbus’ future CEO, 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.”
The Chinese agreed to buy 290 A320 and 10 A350 XWB aircraft.
China’s aerospace market is integral to both aircraft manufacturers, and Boeing aircraft offered key leverage to President Donald Trump in the trade dispute with China until the crash of Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 Max 8 plane on Mar. 10 and the subsequent grounding of those jets around the world. The cause of the crash has not been determined yet, but the company is fighting to rebuild trust with airlines and customers.
China will need 7,400 new passenger and freight planes in the next 20 years, or more than 19 percent of global demand for more than 37,400 new aircraft, according to Airbus’ China Market Forecast for 2018 to 2037. Last September, Boeing cited similar figures for Chinese demand, saying the company forecast that China will need 7,690 airplanes to meet demand that is expected to increase 6.2 percent annually.
The Airbus deal comes amid a week of deal-making between China and European allies while trade talks with the U.S. remain unresolved. Just days earlier, Italy signed on to become the first developed economy to sign on to China’s global investment program for Beijing’s “new Silk Road” infrastructure programs, completing $2.8 billion in deals while Xi was in Italy.
“With a shared value of safety, be assured that we are bringing all of the resources of The Boeing Company to bear, working together tirelessly to understand what happened and do everything possible to ensure it doesn’t happen again,” Boeing Chairman and CEO Dennis Muilenburg said in a statement on Tuesday. “Boeing stands together with all our customers and partners to earn and strengthen the flying public’s trust and confidence in us every day.”
ABC News’ Jeffrey Cook and David Kerley contributed to this report.