China Aviation Supplies Holding Company (CAS) on Wednesday signed a General Terms Agreement (GTA) with Airbus for the purchase of 100 A320 family narrowbodies and 40 A350 XWBs. Airbus CEO Tom Enders and CAS executive vice president Sun Bo signed the GTA in Berlin in the presence of visiting Chinese president Xi Jinping and German chancellor Angela Merkel.
“This is a great endorsement for our leading products in both single-aisle and widebody segments,” said Enders. “China is today one of the world’s most important markets for aviation, and we are honored to support the development and rapid growth of China’s civil aviation with our competitive product portfolio.”
The widebody order comes as a particular boost for Airbus, which, along with Boeing, has experienced a sales lull in that sector for the past few years. The parties didn’t specify which A350 variant the GTA covers, but Airbus’s latest, the A350-1000, has drawn orders for just 211 copies; following a decision last year by American Airlines to delay delivery of 22 A350-900s by an average of 26 months, United Airlines early this year said it had begun considering alternatives to the 35 A350-1000s on which it holds a firm order and, most recently, Delta Air Lines deferred deliveries of 10 of 25 A350-900s on order for two to three years.
Nevertheless, China appears to represent a fertile source of both single-aisle and twin-aisle demand, accounting for an estimated 40,000 airplanes within 20 years and becoming the world’s largest market overall, according to Airbus’s latest market forecast.
By the end of May, Chinese operators flew a total of some 1,440 aircraft, of which A320s accounted for nearly 1,230. The A350, meanwhile, has received what Airbus calls valuable endorsements from several Chinese customers, including Air China, China Eastern and China Southern Airlines.