hina’s three biggest airlines, China Southern, China Eastern and Air China announced on July 1 a purchase order for 292 A320NEO aircraft, a new narrow-body plane from Airbus, with a total value of US$37.26 billion.
The huge order is seen as a signal that China intends to increase domestic and international flights as the pandemic is put under control. In May, China Southern’s passengers numbers grew by 52.35 percent compared to April, Air China by 36.1 percent and China Eastern by 74.2 percent, according to date from the three airlines.
Media reports said that Boeing and Airbus make up most of the three airlines’ fleets, currently with an almost 50-50 split. The new order will increase Airbus’ share, which analysts believe is due to safety concerns.
On March 21, a Boeing 737-800 plane operated by China Eastern crashed in Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region en route from Kunming, Yunnan Province to Guangzhou, Guangdong Province, killing all 132 people onboard. Although the exact cause of the accident is still under investigation and so far there is no obvious mechanical reason, Boeing 737-800 planes have reportedly crashed four times between 2016 and 2020. In March 2019, China suspended Boeing’s 737 MAX planes after a 737 MAX 8 plane operated by Ethiopian Airlines crashed. The ban has not yet been lifted.