SHANGHAI: Chinese flag carrier Air China said yesterday it would order five 737 aircraft from Boeing Co, apparently part of a Chinese shopping spree aimed at deflecting US criticism of the country's massive bilateral trade surplus.
The order is expected to be firmed up during next month's visit to the US by Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, and comes against the backdrop of a Chinese trade surplus on track this year to top last year's US$103bil.
Deliveries were expected to begin in 2005, Air China spokesman Wang Yongsheng told Reuters, declining to reveal pricing or further details.
We're preparing to order five, Wang said by telephone from Beijing. They are part of an order to be signed during Wen Jiabao's visit to the United States.
The order would also represent a much-needed win for Boeing in the growing Chinese aviation market which the company foresees needing 1,900 aircraft over the next two decades after Airbus signed a 30-plane deal with China in April.
State media said yesterday that China would sign an order for thirty 737s worth around US$2bil during Wen's visit to the United States, with orders also to come from regional carriers Shandong Airlines Co and Xiamen Airlines.
Shandong Airlines, the smallest of the country's listed carriers, confirmed it would also order aircraft during Wen's visit, but would not go into details.
Xiamen Airlines declined to comment. Reuters
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