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Aviation

China's small Shandong Airlines strikes multi-billion deal with Boeing

One of China's smaller carriers, Shandong Airlines, has confirmed it's buying a batch of passenger planes from Boeing for billions of dollars. The deal marked a setback for European rival Airbus in a lucrative market.

China's Shandong Airlines said on Tuesday it had agreed to buy 50 passenger aircraft from US manufacturer Boeing.

It noted the deal worth $4.6 billion (3.33 billion euros) would involve the purchase of 16 737-800s and 34 737 MAX planes, underpinning the small carrier's drive to enlarge its fleet for future business expansion.

The Asian country's commercial aviation industry is still dominated by Air China, China Eastern Airlines and China Southern Airlines, but a move towards greater competition has also seen the growth of smaller players.

All eyes on the Asia-Pacific region

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Shandong Airlines said it aimed to increase its fleet to more than 140 aircraft by the end of 2020, with the planes just ordered from Boeing to be delivered in batches between 2016 and 2020.

Rivals Boeing and Airbus have been in fierce competition for lucrative orders from China which has been seeing a rapidly expanding domestic sector. Beijing said the country would need over 5,500 new planes by 2032. The Asia-Pacific region would require almost 13,000 new aircraft over the next 20 years, Boeing estimated.

While slow growth in Western economies is hitting the aviation industry, Asian countries look set to remain a very promising market for decades to come as a stronger middle class appears keen to take to the skies.

hg/hc (AFP, dpa)

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