China buys 160 jets from Airbus

China has agreed to buy 160 commercial airplanes from Airbus in a deal worth about $14.8 billion.

Airbus Industrie (Toulouse, France) announced on Nov. 26 that it has agreed to sell 160 commercial passenger jets to China in a deal valued at about $14.8 billion. The order includes 110 A320s and 50 A330s. Airbus officials made the announcement in Beijing and were accompanying French President Nicolas Sarkozy on his first state visit to the country.

Airbus and several Chinese partners agreed this summer to produce A320s in China, ahead of large Chinese orders for the popular single-aisle jet. Its final assembly line in Tianjian is scheduled to deliver the first aircraft in early 2009. The plant is expected to be able to produce four A320s a month by 2011 and a total of 300 A320s by 2016. Airbus and The Boeing Co. (Seattle, Wash.) expect China will become the world’s second-biggest aircraft market after the U.S., with airlines buying 1,900 to 2,600 planes over the next two decades.

The Nov. 26 Airbus order should push Airbus past Boeing in 2007 total orders for commercial aircraft. Boeing reported last week that it has received 1,047 commercial orders this year. Airbus had logged 1,021 commercial orders as of the end of October.