China made an order on Wednesday of 140 Airbus planes, worth $22.8 billion, in what the company’s chief executive Tom Enders said was “one of the biggest contracts signed in a long time by the European aircraft maker.
The deal was signed during President Xi Jinping’s visit to Berlin.
Airbus said it had sealed the agreement with China Aviation Supplies Holding Company (CAS), covering 100 A320 single-aisle jets and 40 A350 wide-body aircraft.
“This underscores the strong demand by Chinese airlines in all segments, from domestic and low-cost to the regional and international long-haul market,” Airbus said in a statement.
The company said a market analysis forecast a doubling of demand worldwide for planes with more than 100 seats to 40,000 aircraft in the next 20 years, fueled largely by demand from developing markets such as China.
“In the mid-1990s we had a market share (in China) of five to six percent,” Enders told journalists after signing the deal in Berlin.
“Twenty years later we have around 50 percent — we really put our foot on the gas.”
Airbus said its A320 line of planes was the world’s best-selling single-aisle aircraft with more than 13,000 orders and 7,600 planes delivered.
In January last year, BOC Aviation, owned by Bank of China, announced an order for 30 Airbus A320s worth more than $3 billion to meet growing demand.
At last month’s Paris Air Show, Airbus announced 326 orders worth nearly $40 billion.
However, it was outpaced at the event, one of the biggest annual sales bazaars in the industry, by Boeing thanks to its new 737 MAX 10 airliner, taking in a total of 571 orders for nearly $75 billion.
Xi was in Berlin for talks with Chancellor Angela Merkel ahead of the G20 summit of big industrialized and emerging economies in the northern German port city of Hamburg starting Friday.
Enders was making his first public appearance since Airbus rolled out a new structure, completing a recent merger between its parent company and its dominant planemaking arm, changes which included a shift in the reporting line for its commercial sales team to Enders.
Enders said the shift in reporting lines for the sales team reflected the fact that commercial aircraft head Fabrice Bregier had been given more tasks in his new role as group-wide chief operating officer.
With orders slowing and the focus shifting to the backlog, Enders said the shake-up allows Bregier to concentrate on deliveries.
Enders also said the group was in talks with the Chinese over the A380 superjumbo, which has suffered slow sales.