Air China to buy 18 Airbus A320neo jets from GECAS subsidiary

FILE PHOTO: The logo of Air China is pictured on a tail of an airplane parked at the aircraft builder's headquarters of Airbus in Colomiers near Toulouse, France, November 15, 2019. REUTERS/Regis Duvignau

BEIJING (Reuters) - Air China will buy 18 Airbus A320neo jets from AFS Investments Inc, a subsidiary of aircraft lessor GECAS, the airline said on Thursday, in a boost to Airbus as it competes with Boeing for Chinese market share.

Air China said the order was worth $2.24 billion, based on list prices and deliveries of the narrow-body aircraft were expected to be completed by 2022.

The airline said it believed the new jets would make it more competitive in a domestic market recovering fast from the coronavirus pandemic and that low financing costs and a favourable exchange rate had helped with the deal.

GECAS and Ireland’s AerCap, the world’s two biggest aircraft leasing companies, announced plans last week to combine, with AerCap agreeing to pay more than $30 billion for GECAS, the air finance business of General Electric.

Air China last announced a deal with Airbus in 2019, when it bought 20 A350 aircraft.

Boeing’s popular narrow-body 737 MAX jet remains grounded in China following crashes in Indonesia in 2018 and Ethiopia in 2019 that killed 346 people.

Reporting by Stella Qiu in Beijing and Jamie Freed in Sydney; Editing by David Clarke