Airbus says to boost China assembly, but wins no new jet order

PARIS (Reuters) - European planemaker Airbus AIR.PA said it planned to boost the number of planes it makes in China under a deal signed in Beijing on Tuesday to expand co-operation at its Tianjin assembly plant.

The provisional deal was signed during a state visit to China by French President Emmanuel Macron.

Airbus said the latest Tianjin agreement would result in production increasing to six aircraft per month - up from four at present - at the local final assembly line for the Airbus A320-family of jets.

The industrial ramp-up will target five aircraft by early 2019 and six per month by early 2020, it added in a statement.

A Beijing signing ceremony did not, however, include any deal for Airbus to sell aircraft to China, despite earlier expectations of a contract timed to coincide with Macron’s visit.

Industry sources had said Airbus was negotiating to sell around 100 planes to China’s state purchasing agency, though a deal had not been flagged as part of the diplomatic preparations for the visit.

New orders for Airbus jetliners have historically featured during such state visits by French leaders.

China regularly splits large orders between Europe and the United States to cope with its fast-expanding airline traffic, but the momentum has recently been with rival Boeing BA.N, which sold 300 jets during a visit by U.S. President Donald Trump last year.

China, however, placed a large order for 140 Airbus jets during a visit to Germany by President Xi Jinping last July.

Some sources say Chinese officials are disappointed about a deal last year for Airbus to buy the CSeries jet project from Bombardier BBDb.TO, derailing talks with Chinese investors after Ottawa intervened to keep the struggling program in Western hands.

Reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta; Writing by Tim Hepher; Editing by Richard Lough and Mark Potter