Fabrice Bregier, chief executive officer of Airbus flight crew wave from the exit stairs after the debut flight of an Airbus A320neo aircraft. (Photographer: Balint Porneczi/Bloomberg)

Airbus Set to Win China Approval for Delayed A320 Neo Deliveries

(Bloomberg) -- Airbus SE expects to secure Chinese approval for the General Electric Co.-powered version of its A320neo jet by the end of this month, signalling the end of a standoff between European and Asian regulators.

Final certification for the narrow-body plane is imminent after the Leap engine made by GE’s CFM International venture with France’s Safran SA was signed off by the Civil Aviation Administration of China earlier this week, Airbus Chief Executive Officer Tom Enders said in an interview.

Airlines in the Asian nation should start receiving aircraft toward the end of May, Enders said. Approval had been anticipated last year but was held up by what analysts at Bernstein described as a “mini trade war” as the Chinese agency sought recognition as a certifying authority in Europe. That would allow the Shanghai-built C919 narrow-body, which also uses the Leap and is currently undergoing test flights, to be exported there.

Pratt & Whitney, which makes the alternative geared-turbofan engine for the A320neo, should meanwhile begin supplying powerplants with fixes for the latest in a series of glitches in time for global deliveries to resume next month, Enders said. Airbus had originally aimed to restart handovers in April.

“We have dozens and dozens of aircraft without engines right now, in Toulouse and Hamburg particularly,” the CEO said after the company’s annual meeting in Amsterdam Wednesday.

Aircraft handovers could be even more backloaded this year than in 2017, when Airbus delivered 127 jets in December alone in order to make up for delays. Just 121 planes were shipped through this April, against a total of 800 targeted for 2018 as a whole.

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