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May 3, 2012

World’s Biggest Trade-In? Boeing Buys Five Airbuses to Seal China Eastern 777 Deal

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This China Eastern Airbus A340-600 will soon belong to Boeing. (Photo by Eric Dunetz)

Boeing has agreed to buy five Airbus A340 jets from China Eastern Airlines as part of a deal that will send 20 new Boeing 777s to China.

China Eastern announced last week that it had reached a deal to purchase 20 Boeing 777-300ERs worth just under $6 billion at list prices. A portion of the purchase price will be offset by essentially trading in all five of their A340-600 airliners to Boeing, who will in turn try to unload them on other buyers.

The A340-600s were delivered between 2003 and 2004, but are much less efficient than the 777s that will replace them on long-haul routes. Five A340-300s will remain in the China Eastern fleet.

While unusual, it is not the first time Boeing has purchased rival Airbus jets in order to smooth over a sale. In the early 2000s, for example, Boeing bought two 17 A340s from Singapore Airlines as part of a 777 deal.

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