Airbus scored another big win over Boeing with the news that Xiamen Airlines is “switching to Airbus for its fleet growth, making the airline the newest Airbus customer,” the manufacturer said in a statement. Until now the airline, part of the China Southern group, has exclusively flown Boeing aircraft.
Airbus said that Xiamen Airlines “placed a firm order” for 40 A320neo family aircraft. At list prices, the order would be worth more US$4 billion, but airlines usually negotiate considerable discounts when ordering multiple aircraft.
The order comes nearly three months after four Chinese airlines – Air China, China Eastern, China Southern and Shenzhen Airlines – placed a bumper order for 292 Airbus planes, worth an estimated US$37 billion. While weakened by the pandemic, airlines around the world are preparing for an expected doubling of air travel in the next two decades.
In July, Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post said that geopolitical tensions between the United States and China “tipped the balance” in Beijing’s decision to start favouring Airbus over Boeing.
Xiamen Airlines currently has a short and medium-haul fleet of nine Boeing 737-700s and 131 737-800s. It has also taken delivery of ten MAX 8s between June 2018 and March 2019 through CSA Leasing, the leasing branch of China Southern. These aircraft have been in storage since the MAX was grounded in March 2019. Chinese airlines are still awaiting the final approval to resume MAX operations.