As the French President Emmanuel Macron prepares to visit China, is the Chinese government ready to announce a new aircraft deal with Airbus?
According to reports by Reuters, the France-based aircraft manufacturer is currently in talks with China “for dozens of jets”. An official in the French President Emanuel Macron’s office was cited by the publication as saying that negotiations between the two sides were “underway”.
Macron is scheduled to visit China between April 5 and April 7, 2023.
Furthermore, a delegation of French business leaders will also be on the trip, including representatives from Airbus, according to La Tribune. The French weekly added that objective of the visit was to ensure “that a balanced economic relationship with China benefits French businesses and consumers”.
In July 2022, China’s Big Three – Air China, China Eastern Airlines, and China Southern Airlines – signed up for 292 Airbus A320neo family aircraft. The same deal was rehashed when Olaf Scholz, the Chancellor of Germany visited the country in November 2022 and the Chinese authorities announced a deal for 140 Airbus jets, including 132 A320neo family and 8 A350 aircraft. However, an Airbus spokesperson was cited by Reuters at the time as saying that the 140 aircraft were from previously placed orders.
This was not the first time a state visit coincided with an Airbus and China deal. In October 2006, when then-French President Jacques Chirac visited the country, the manufacturer announced the establishment of a Final Assembly Line (FAL) in Tianjin, China, becoming Airbus’ first international FAL.
During the previous year, then-China’s Prime Minister Wen Jiabao visited Paris and, following a meeting with then-French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin, signed a deal for 150 Airbus A320 family aircraft.
In March 2019, Chinese President Xi Jinping visited France, resulting in a deal for 300 Airbus aircraft.
When China Southern Airlines ordered five Airbus A380s in January 2005, the signing ceremony was attended by the Chinese ambassador to France. At the time, the Chinese embassy emphasized that “European countries, including France, Germany, Britain, and Spain, have excellent economic and trade cooperation with China”.
“The decision taken by a Chinese company to acquire Airbus A380s will have positive effects on the further development of this cooperation. As long as they work together to increase exchanges, deepen mutual trust, and remove obstacles to mutually beneficial cooperation, China and Europe can ensure the healthy and steady development of their economic and trade relations,” the embassy added.
The Tianjin, China facility delivered its first aircraft in 2009, with the site expanding to also welcome a wide-body completion and delivery center (C&DC) for the A330 and A350. Airbus delivered the first A321neo from the FAL in March 2023.