French President Emmanuel Macron ended his visit to China on Wednesday with a significant prize – an order for 184 Airbus A320 aircraft to be handed to 13 airlines. The order had not previously been publicised and is valued at €15 billion ($18 billion).
Delivery of the aircraft is expected to start as early as next year. The Chinese operate a policy of balancing their orders between Airbus and Boeing. The American manufacturer has previously said that China will need a total of 7,240 new commercial aircraft over the next 20 years.
The Western press has largely interpreted Macron’s visit not only as a significant political and business success, but as representing a major expansion of France’s role as a European intermediary in the wake of the UK’s declining influence in the EU post-Brexit decision.