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Chinese Group Orders Twenty Airbus A320's

The oriental transport group, China Eastern Airlines, has placed an order...

The oriental transport group, China Eastern Airlines, has placed an order for twenty new Airbus A320 aircraft, in a deal worth as much as $1.1 billion. The move is part of a plan by the nation's third biggest carrier to expand its fleet to over a hundred planes within three years.

The purchase has received government approval, said Wang Zhi, an official at the Civil Aviation Administration of China, at the signing ceremony. The aircraft will be powered by engines made by CFM International, a partnership between General Electric, the biggest engine maker for aeroplanes, and France's Snecma, the Airbus's Chief Commercial Officer John Leahy said in an interview.

?With the introduction of the A320s, China Eastern will operate the biggest A320 fleet in China,? Leahy said. When asked whether the airline received a discount on the $55 million price tag for each plane, Leahy only said that ?China Eastern is a good friend and one of our oldest customers.?

Chinese airlines are hoping to take advantage a drop in aircraft demand after the September 11th terrorist attacks to get discounts from plane manufacturers. Hainan Airlines said last month that it plans to buy nine Boeing aircraft and 12 Fairchild Dornier planes this year.