Over the next two decades China is to spend $400 billion to purchase 3,770 planes from manufacturers, making China second in size only to the combined market of the U.S. and Canada.
While the Chinese market is growing fast, Airbus is poised to gain a greater benefit than Boeing, which now finds itself a target in a nasty war of words between Washington and Beijing that could put Boeing even further behind its larger rival.
Boeing is the Chinese aviation industry’s largest foreign customer.
Xian Aircraft Industry, for example, last month delivered 1,500 vertical fins for 737 narrow bodies. Boeing has purchased a combined $1.5 billion in aircraft parts and services from China over the past 30 years.
But Airbus may still have the edge.
Chinese airlines have placed orders for 358 Airbus planes and have options for another 14 more; they have ordered 244 new planes from Boeing and have placed no options for further units.
Business Week points out Airbus has letters of intent for an additional 60 planes, compared to 40 for Boeing.
For instance, China Southern, the country’s largest airline, announced on Jan. 20 that it would buy 20 Airbus A320 aircraft, paying $76.9 million per plane.
On Dec. 28, the country’s second-largest carrier, China Eastern Airlines, announced a $2.6 billion agreement to purchase 16 Airbus A330s, to be delivered by 2014.