Airbus close to signing aircraft deal with China: Sources

Employees work on an Airbus A319 aircraft of Beijing Capital Airlines at an aircraft maintenance base in Yichang, Hubei province, China, on March 15, 2019. PHOTO: REUTERS

PARIS (REUTERS) - European planemaker Airbus is close to signing a deal worth billions of dollars with China following a delay of more than a year in the negotiations, industry sources said on Monday (March 25).

The deal is part of a package of trade deals coinciding with a visit to Europe by Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Airbus declined to comment.

Boeing shares pared gains briefly on the news and were up about 1.2 per cent at 16.26 GMT.

China has become a key hunting ground for Airbus and its leading rival Boeing, thanks to surging travel demand, but the outlook has been complicated by Beijing's desire to grow its own industrial champions and, more recently for Boeing, the US-China trade war.

French President Emmanuel Macron unexpectedly failed to clinch the Airbus order during a trip to China in early 2018 and the French government and Airbus have been working since to salvage it.

Macron said at the time that China would buy 184 A320 narrow-body jets, an order worth US$18 billion (S$24.3 billion) at list prices.

Xi arrived in France from Italy on Sunday on a three-day state visit.

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