French President Emmanuel Macron has confirmed that Airbus has reached an agreement with thirteen Chinese airlines for 184 A320 family aircraft. The deal is worth €15 billion ($18 billion) at list prices; Airbus will almost certainly provide large discounts on the order. Planes will be delivered in 2019 and 2020.

The announcement of the order came a day after Macron met with Chinese President Xi Jinping. Several business deals were closed during their talks. Macron said that Xi confirmed during their meeting that the plane order would be made despite reports from Airbus and Chinese officials that the deal had fallen through.

“It’s something that will be completely finalized shortly, but it was confirmed to me by the president,” Macron said at a news conference on Wednesday. “President Xi confirmed to me that China will maintain the volume of orders in the coming years and preserve parity with the market shares of Airbus and Boeing.”

Macron added that France and China have “ambitions” for sales of its A350 and A380 long-haul planes “in the weeks and months to come.” Airbus is counting on large A380 orders from China and UAE-based Emirates to save the A380 Superjumbo program, which has failed to pick up a new orders in two years.

“China and other countries are not that interested in the A380. The operating performance of the five A380s purchased by China Southern Airlines is poor, which means to build [an A380 production line at the Tianjin plant] is not meaningful,” said Lin Zhijie, an aviation industry analyst and columnist at Carnoc, a civil aviation website in China.

China has the world’s second largest aviation market, and many analysts agree that it will overtake the United States as the aviation market leader within the next decade. These stats make competition between manufacturers such as Airbus, Boeing, and Comac fierce in the region. Airbus independently announced early this week that it plans to increase production of the A320 at its Tianjin plant in China.

Airbus made a massive deal with China in July 2017 when Xi purchased 140 Airbus jets during a visit to Germany.

Boeing has also made recent sales in China. The US plane maker sold 300 aircraft during a visit by President Donald Trump last November.

The most recent Airbus deal has yet to be finalized. A confirmation should be announced in the coming weeks.

Featured image by Julian Herzog via Wikimedia Commons

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