China Eastern Airlines to Buy 70 Airbus Jets for About $6.4bn
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius and his delegation pose in front of a completed Airbus 320 aircraft belonging to China Eastern Airlines, during his visit to the Airbus factory in Tianjin, China, on 24 February, 2014.Reuters

China Eastern Airlines, one of the country's top three carriers, has ordered 70 A320neo planes, marking a huge victory for Airbus that has been marketing the upgraded variant of its popular A320 jet to Chinese buyers.

The $6.37bn (£3.81bn, €4.61bn) deal will boost China Eastern's competitiveness, by increasing its capacity by some 13%, the airline said in a stock exchange filing on 28 February.

The aircraft are scheduled to enter service between 2018 and 2020 and will fly both short and medium routes, China Eastern said.

The Chinese airline is the first in the country to buy the A320neo aircraft.

China Eastern also said it had inked a separate deal with Airbus to sell-back seven used A300-600 jets.

Airbus, which expects China to overtake the US as the world's largest domestic market by 2032, has invested heavily in the world's second-largest economy. It manufactures the existing variants of the A320 jet at a factory in Tianjin, in northern China.

Airbus Market Share

Airbus said, in January, that it had beaten US rival Boeing in terms of market share, in the wake of record deliveries and orders in 2013.

At the end of 2013, Airbus commanded a 51% gross market share in the category for aircrafts with over 100 seats.

Airbus also said it regained the top spot in commercial orders with an industry record of 1,619 aircraft, beating its previous best by 11 jets.

Adjusting for cancellations, Airbus's commercial aircraft orders increased 80% to 1,503 in 2013.

Boeing had earlier reported gross commercial orders of 1,531 and net orders of 1,355.

The European aircraft maker had approached several Chinese carriers to sell hundreds of A320neos, the company's China president Eric Chen said in September 2013, reported Reuters.