Airline talks with China ahead of Macron visit

Airline talks with China ahead of Macron visit

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

China's usually balanced airplane imports have tilted towards Airbus in recent years due to worsening relations between Washington and Beijing.

A French official said that negotiations are under way, and that any agreements by French firms would not consist of repackaging earlier announcements.

There were several moving parts in the talks, with details not yet finalised, according to an industry source. Airbus has an assembly plant in China.

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

Airbus didn't give any comment on any of the senior management's agenda or airplane negotiations.

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

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

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.