BEIJING, July 7 -- China Southern Airlines Co, one of China's three biggest carriers, said Friday it has agreed to buy 50 Airbus A320 aircraft, the Associated Press reported today.
The airline signed an agreement to buy the planes yesterday after its board approved the purchase, it said in a statement published in the state-run newspaper China Securities Journal.
The catalog price of the jets totals 26.53 billion yuan (US$3.3 billion), but the airline said it would pay less, without giving an exact amount.
Rival airline China Eastern Airlines Co last week announced the purchase of 30 Airbus 320s.
The purchase announced late Monday appeared to be part of a 150-aircraft order from Airbus by six Chinese airlines, announced during a visit by Premier Wen Jiabao to France in December. Wen's first stop in France was the Airbus production base in the southern city of Toulouse.
Last month, the Chinese government said it has approved Airbus's plan to open an assembly plant for A320s in the eastern city of Tianjin.
Airbus and its US rival, Chicago-based Boeing Co, are looking to China's growing aviation market to drive sales in coming decades. Airbus has in the past taken about one-third of China's aircraft orders, with Boeing winning about 60 percent.
Separately, the government reported that passenger volume on domestic Chinese airlines rose 18 percent in the first half of the year to 74.3 million people.
China became the world's second biggest aviation market after the United States last year, the General Administration of Civil Aviation said in a report on its Website.
(Source: Shanghai Daily)