China Eastern Airlines Says It Will Buy 30 Airbus Jets

China Eastern Airlines Corp., one of China's three biggest carriers, said Tuesday it has agreed to buy 30 Airbus A320 jetliners to meet growing demand in the booming Chinese air travel market.

The airline didn't give a purchase price but said it would pay less than the $1.7 billion total list price of the planes. China Eastern said it expects to receive the planes between May 2008 and November 2010.

The announcement comes after the Chinese government said earlier this month that it has approved Airbus's plan to open an assembly plant for A320s in the eastern city of Tianjin.

China Eastern didn't say whether the aircraft it is buying will come from that factory.

Airbus, based in Toulouse, France, and its U.S. rival, Chicago-based Boeing Co., are looking to China's growing aviation market to drive sales in coming decades.

The purchase announced late Monday appeared to be part of a 150-aircraft order from Airbus by six Chinese airlines, announced during a visit by Premier Wen Jiabao to France in December. Wen's first stop in France was the Airbus production base in the southern city of Toulouse.

Airbus has in the past taken about one-third of China's aircraft orders, with Boeing winning about 60 percent.

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