Boeing will lose fleet exclusivity to one of its customers in China. Xiamen Airlines, an airline based in Fujian province, will take delivery of 40 A320neo jets from Airbus between 2024 and 2027, its main shareholder China Southern Airlines announced on Thursday.
The deal, estimated at $4.9 billion, revealed on the Shanghai Stock Exchange was confirmed by Airbus hours later. “Xiamen Airlines has placed a firm order for 40 A320neo Family aircraft switching to Airbus for its fleet growth, making the airline the newest Airbus customer,” the planemaker said in a statement.
Currently, Xiamen Airlines operates an exclusive fleet of aircraft supplied by Boeing, including 150 737 and 12 787 Dreamliner.
Most single-aisle aircraft are the 737-800 model, but Xiamen has taken delivery of 10 737 MAX 8s, which are currently out of service. There are still 25 aircraft pending delivery whose fate is uncertain.
The new deal comes months after a mega-order was placed by three major Chinese airlines. In July, China Eastern, China Southern and Air China announced orders for 292 A320neo family aircraft.
At the time, the request was considered retaliation by the Chinese government against Boeing because of the hardening relationship with the Biden administration.
The situation worsened after the visit of US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Taiwan.
Boeing is still trying to convince CAAC, the Chinese civil aviation authority, to allow the 737 MAX to operate in the country. In December, the agency approved the return, but the model’s operators would still be waiting for changes to the aircraft.
Last week, the US manufacturer revealed that it will remarket part of the 737 MAX orders by Chinese carriers after waiting too long for deliveries to resume.