At the beginning of this year, new, tougher carbon emissions rules went into effect for airplanes arriving or departing from EU airports. Complaints and protests came from every direction, but among the loudest complainers was China, which ordered its airlines not to pay the fees.
Not only that, the government also made it clear that the country’s airlines should not order new aircraft from European Aeronautic Defense and Space Co. (EADS), makers of the Airbus family of planes. As of March, orders for 36 planes had been withdrawn.
Earlier this month the European Union agreed to delay enforcement of the new fee for another year, and presto, Airbus received a new order for 60 of its A320 aircraft from China Eastern Airlines Corp. Ltd. (NYSE: CEA). The order is worth about $5.4 billion at list prices, and deliveries are scheduled to begin in 2014.
New orders for Airbus planes in 2012 have lagged significantly behind new orders from its chief competition, Boeing Co. (NYSE: BA). Orders for new Boeing aircraft are above 1,000, while Airbus can claim only about half that total, including today’s order. Boeing’s best sellers are the new versions of its workhorse single aisle 737, which competes with Airbus’s A320 family. This year through October, Boeing has also delivered more airplanes than Airbus — 486 vs. 462, respectively.