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Airbus denies no deals from Chinese firms

AIRBUS SAS, the world's largest commercial-plane maker, denied a news report that it didn't expect to win orders from China this year, saying it is "not true," the company said over the weekend.

The plane maker admitted the market is "challenging." Still, "we are in steady talks with our Chinese customers," it told Bloomberg News in an e-mailed statement.

Chinese airlines have damped expansion plans as they contend with the nation's waning economic growth and overcapacity in the airline industry. China Eastern Airlines Corp, the country's third-largest carrier, last Friday said it will cancel some Airbus and Boeing Co plane orders. A Shanghai Airlines official, however, told Shanghai Daily yesterday that the company hasn't changed its orders with Airbus for this year so far.

Two Airbus executives, who declined to be named, told Bloomberg News earlier last week that the plane maker didn't expect to win any orders from China this year.

Airbus opened an aircraft-assembly factory in Tianjin, its first outside Europe, last year to boost its presence in the country. Worldwide, the plane maker's and Boeing's orders and deliveries are tumbling as airlines struggle for credit and a lack of demand by passengers have seen several airlines cutting back on flights.

For Airbus, "China is such a killer part of their strategy outside Europe," said Doug McVitie, managing director of France-based Arran Aerospace, a consulting company. But he said "there's no order" at the Airbus plant in Tianjin which the firm built for China.

The country will likely be the second-largest market for passenger aircraft from 2007 to 2026, according to an Airbus forecast, which predicted it will probably need 3,238 passenger planes valued at US$391.2 billion.

Toulouse, France-based Airbus plans to deliver the first aircraft assembled at its Tianjin plant to Dragon Aviation Leasing Co by mid-year, it said last week.


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