China set to be world’s largest buyer of planes, signs deal with Airbus to buy 130 aircraft

China last Thursday signed a $17 billion contract with European aerospace consortium Airbus to buy 130 aircraft as German Chancellor Angela Merkel began a visit to the world's second largest economy, which is also the world's leading aviation market. State-owned China Aviation Supplies Holding Group and Airbus signed the giant deal to buy 30 wide-body A330 planes and 100 single-aisle A320 aircraft. The order, valued at $17 billion, was announced after Merkel met China's Premier Li Keqiang in Beijing.

China is the European Union's largest trading partner and several major EU countries including Germany, Britain and France are wooing the country in the hope of becoming hubs for the growing overseas trade of China's yuan currency. Airbus, the world's second-largest aerospace company behind Boeing Co, is battling its US rival for dominance of the Chinese market.

During Chinese President Xi Jinping's visit to the US last month, Seattle-based Boeing announced a record purchase of 300 aircraft worth around $38 billion. China is leading the world in air passenger growth. Its domestic air traffic is expected to surpass that of all other countries within the next 10 years, the Airbus said in statement. Around 5,400 new passenger and cargo planes will be needed in China in the coming 20 years, including about 1,700 wide-body aircraft such as the A330, the Airbus said. The A330 Family, which seats 250 to 440 passengers, is one of the most efficient aircraft in the world, with the lowest operating costs in its category.

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