China Eastern Airlines to buy 60 A320 aircraft

China Eastern Airlines to buy 60 A320 aircraft

HONG KONG, China - China Eastern Airlines, one of the country's three major carriers, said on Friday it will buy 60 Airbus A320 aircraft in a deal worth US$5.39 billion (S$6.58 billion) to meet booming domestic travel demand.

"The Airbus aircraft will primarily be used to satisfy the increasing demand for domestic medium and short-haul passenger air transportation routes," the airline said in a statement to the Hong Kong stock exchange.

"The purchase of the Airbus aircraft will further strengthen the company's competitiveness in the domestic civil aviation market and increase its operational capacity in domestic routes of the company."

The Shanghai-based China Eastern Airlines said the new aircraft will be delivered in stages from 2014 to 2017 while the purchase will be funded through bank loans.

The deal is subject to shareholder and regulatory approvals.

In the same statement, China Eastern also said it has agreed to sell 18 regional jets - 10 from Brazilian aircraft maker Embraer and eight from Canadian manufacturer Canadair - to Airbus in a bid to streamline its fleet.

The 18 jets, valued at 1.54 billion yuan (S$301 million), have an average usage of around 8.2 years. They will be delivered to Airbus from 2014 to 2016.

"The disposal of the regional jets will streamline the aircraft models operated by the company, optimize the fleet structure of the company and lower the unit operation costs of the company," China Eastern said.

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