The announcement came as US President George Bush wrapped up an official visit to China.

 

The US aerospace giant will deliver the 737-700 and 800 models to eight major Chinese airlines between 2006 and 2008, Boeing China spokesman George Liu said on Sunday.

The signing in Beijing is part of a broader deal to supply 150 737 aircraft, but the arrangement for the other 80 planes will be after 2008 and has not yet been finalised, Liu said.

"We are working with airplane customers to finalise that deal," Liu said.

He said the agreement for the confirmed first batch of 70 aircraft was worth $4 billion.

The companies who will receive the 70 aircraft are Air China, China Southern Airlines, China Eastern Airlines, Shanghai Airlines, Xiamen Airlines, Shandong Airlines, Hainan Airlines and Shenzhen Airlines.

The deal was signed between Boeing and China's aviation authorities, including the China Aviation Supplies Import and Export Group - the state aircraft purchasing agency.

The signing of the deal came as Bush discussed China's massive trade surplus with the United States with Chinese President Hu Jintao at the Great Hall of the People.

US Trade deficit

Bush had signalled before the visit that trade issues would be high on his agenda, with one of his key concerns being the US trade deficit with China, which is expected to surpass $200 billion this year.

The latest deal adds to an agreement in January in which Boeing sold 60 of its new generation 787 "Dreamliner" passenger jets to China for $7.2 billion.

It is a further boost for Boeing in its battle against European rival Airbus for market share in the world's fastest growing major aviation market.

Boeing holds about 62% of China's aviation market.
Airbus holds a 28% share.