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Exclusive: Airbus China order padded by old or incomplete deals – sources

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FILE PHOTO: The Airbus logo is pictured at Airbus headquarters in Blagnac near Toulouse, France, March 20, 2019. REUTERS/Regis Duvignau/File Photo

PARIS (Reuters) – A landmark order from China for 300 Airbus jets signed during a state visit last week was bolstered by repeat announcements of dozens of existing deals and advance approval for deals that are not yet completed, two people familiar with the matter said.

Echoing an umbrella order for 300 Boeing jets awarded during a visit to Beijing by U.S. President Donald Trump in 2017, the headline figure for the new “framework order” for European jets was partly driven by political considerations, the people said.

The Airbus deal would have been worth some $35 billion at list prices but the amount of new business is lower, they added. Duplicate announcements included a deal for 10 A350 aircraft to an unnamed buyer, which represents a repeat announcement of an order for 10 jets by Sichuan Airlines at an air show last year.

The disclosure takes some of the shine off an announcement seen as the economic highlight of a trip to Europe by Chinese President Xi Jinping, but does mark a return to the aircraft market by China’s state buying agency after a pause of over a year during global trade tensions.

Airbus declined to comment on detailed orders but left open the possibility that the large deal contained gaps.

The agreement “creates the approval framework for aircraft ordered by Chinese airlines, be it existing orders or future orders,” a spokesman said in response to a Reuters query.

Reporting by Tim Hepher; Editing by Bate Felix/Sudip Kar-Gupta

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