An $8 billion order commitment signed by China Aviation Supplies Holding Company (CAS) on Thursday marked a thawing of China’s freeze on a purchase of Airbus widebodies imposed in protest of the European Union’s emissions trading scheme (ETS). The deal, signed at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing by CAS president and CEO Li Hai and Airbus chief executive Fabrice Brégier in the presence of visiting French President François Hollande and Chinese President Xi Jinping, involves 42 A320-family narrowbodies and 18 A330s.
Last year China “held in abeyance” orders for as many as 35 A330s and 10 A380s in protest over the ETS, prompting Airbus to postpone plans to raise A330 production from 10 to 11 per month. Since then the EU has postponed imposing carbon fees on non-EU airlines, while European airlines, still subject to the ETS, complain that the taxes they must pay place them at a competitive disadvantage. The status of the remaining 27 widebodies on order with Chinese companies remains uncertain.