Airbus in talks for new China jet order ahead of Macron visit

By - Reuters

By Tim Hepher and Michel Rose

PARIS (Reuters) - European planemaker Airbus is negotiating a new round of plane orders with China, coinciding with a visit by French President Emmanuel Macron to the economic superpower later this week, government and industry sources said.

The potential deal for dozens of jets comes amid worsening relations between Washington and Beijing, which have seen China's usually balanced airplane imports tilt towards Airbus in recent years.

"Negotiations are under way," an official in Macron's office said, adding that any agreements by French firms would not merely consist of repackaging earlier announcements.

An industry source cautioned there were several moving parts in the talks, with details not yet finalised. Airbus also has an industry presence in China including an assembly plant.

Macron is due to conduct the state visit to China on April 5-7, with a delegation of company chiefs from France-based companies, expected to include Airbus CEO Guillaume Faury.

Airbus declined to comment on any airplane negotiations or the agenda of senior management.

Diplomats say high-level visits by Europe or the United States frequently generate aircraft deals serving as a barometer of diplomatic ties, although announcements also tend to be scrutinised for their additional economic impact.

In July last year, China's "Big Three" state airlines pledged to buy a total of 292 Airbus jets in the biggest order by Chinese carriers since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In November, China's state buying agency said it had signed a deal for 140 Airbus jets during a visit by Germany Chancellor Olaf Scholz, but the planemaker said the announcement covered deals already on its books, including part of the July deal.

(Reporting by Tim Hepher, Michel Rose, Editing by Louise Heavens)

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