China in talks to buy at least 150 Airbus jets -sources

March 19 Wed Mar 19, 2014 12:25am EDT

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March 19 (Reuters) - China is in talks to buy at least 150 Airbus passenger jets potentially worth $20 billion when Xi Jinping pays his first visit to Europe as president at the end of this month, people familiar with the matter said.

In a broad-ranging deal that could help reset trade relations between China and Europe after a bumpy year, the deal could include an agreement to buy more A330 passenger jets in exchange for a deal to open Airbus's second plant in the country.

The "cabin completion" plant for A330s would bolster Airbus's presence, five years after the opening of its first final assembly plant outside Europe in the Chinese port city of Tianjin, where local workers piece together complete A320 jets.

The deal could also involve a decision to unfreeze the purchase of 27 A330s blocked by China during a recent row with the European Union over environmental policies.

A package to be announced during French and German stages of the trip could also include some A320 and A350 aircraft, the people familiar with the matter said. However, the final outcome depends on negotiations that could continue up to the last minute.

A spokesman for Airbus, a subsidiary of Airbus Group , previously known as EADS, declined to comment. The people declined to be identified as they are not authorised to speak to the media due to the confidentiality of the matter. (Reporting by Tim Hepher; Editing by Miral Fahmy)

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