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China's Shandong Airlines to buy 15 Boeing planes

by Staff Writers
Shanghai (AFP) Dec 24, 2010
China's Shandong Airlines said Friday it plans to buy 15 Boeing passenger planes worth up to 1.2 billion dollars amid fast-growing demand for air travel in the increasingly prosperous country.

The catalogue price of each Boeing 737-800 aircraft is between 75 million dollars and 80 million dollars but the US aerospace giant is offering unspecified price concessions, the airline told the Shenzhen Stock Exchange.

The 15 planes will be delivered between 2014 and 2015, it said.

Boeing said in November that it expected China's civil aircraft fleet to more than triple over the next 20 years, with 5,180 planes by 2029 compared with 1,570 last year.

Chinese airlines will need 4,330 new jets valued at 480 billion dollars over the next two decades, compared with global demand of 30,900 units during the period, said Boeing's vice president of marketing, Randy Tinseth.

The announcement of the deal comes weeks ahead of President Hu Jintao's state visit to the United States in January and amid soaring demand for air travel in the world's most populous country of 1.3 billion people.

Airline traffic in China is expected to exceed 700 million passengers a year by 2020, and double that by 2030, state media has reported, quoting the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC).

This year, passenger numbers are due to hit 260 million, according to official forecasts -- a 13 percent rise from 2009.

In September, Airbus spokesman Rainer Ohler said China would be "the number one aviation market in the next 20 years, unseating the United States".

The Shandong Airlines deal comes as Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China attempts to challenge industry giants Airbus and Boeing.

The state-backed plane maker unveiled its C919 at a major airshow in southern China last month. It won orders for 100 of the new jets.

The C919 -- a single-aisle jet that can seat up to 190 passengers -- is China's first domestically manufactured medium-to-large sized passenger jet, and is seen as a potential competitor to the Airbus A320 and the Boeing 737.

The plane is due to make a trial flight in 2014 and should be delivered to clients in 2016.

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