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China orders 150 Airbus jets

Updated:
PARIS (AP) _ China ordered 150 Airbus single-aisle A320 airliners Monday, more than twice as many plane orders as the company's U.S.-based rival Boeing Co. snagged from China last month.

The European aircraft manufacturer said the deal was worth nearly $10 billion and was ``the largest single order that Airbus has ever received since it entered the Chinese market two decades ago.''

The A319s, A320s and A321s, all part of the A320 family, will go to Air China, China Eastern Airlines, China Southern Airlines, Sichuan Airlines, Shenzhen Airlines and Hainan Airlines.

The order upstages China's purchase last month of 70 Boeing jets during a visit to Beijing by President Bush. At list prices that deal was worth about $4 billion. Buyers typically get discounts on large orders.

Until now, Chicago-based Boeing has won about 60 percent of new plane orders from China, with Airbus taking about one-third.

The order for Airbus planes was announced on the second day of a visit to France by Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao. Representatives from Airbus and China's Central Aircraft Sales Corp. signed the deal in the presence of the Chinese premier and his French counterpart Dominique de Villepin.

In all, the two prime ministers oversaw the signing of 16 contracts or deals worth a total of $10.5 billion, including the Airbus order.

French telecommunications equipment maker Alcatel said it signed a contract with China Satellite Communication Corp. to design and manufacture a new-generation of satellite.

Eurocopter and a Chinese partner signed a contract for the joint development of a six-ton helicopter.

Also signed was a $175 million financing arrangement for a high-speed rail link.

Backed by a high-level French diplomatic offensive, Airbus has been pushing to increase its presence in China, one of the world's fastest-growing markets for air travel.

Airbus is controlled by European Aeronautic Defence and Space Co.

Prime Minister Wen's first stop in France on Sunday was the factory where Airbus assembles its 555-seater A380 superjumbos.

Soon after touching down in the southern French city of Toulouse, Wen also presided over the signing of a cooperation agreement between Airbus and China's National Development and Reform Commission that could lead to the opening of an Airbus assembly line to build A320 jets in China.
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