TOULOUSE, FRANCE — Airbus is diligently pursuing a multi-billion-dollar transaction involving widebody jets for China, a deal that could materialize as early as this week. It coincides with French President Emmanuel Macron's anticipated visit to the Asian powerhouse, as stated by sources acquainted with the situation.

The ongoing negotiations encompass A350 and possibly A330neo models, specifically designed for long-haul flights. Sources, preferring anonymity due to the fluid nature of the discussions and the fluctuating choices of models and quantities, caution that the talks might conclude without an agreement.

Taking into account standard industry discounts, A350s typically retail for over $150 million apiece, as indicated by aviation consultant Avitas.

Incorporating widebody jets would significantly enhance China's global tourism capabilities as the nation recovers from a three-year hiatus on international travel, a consequence of the COVID-19 border restrictions.

Furthermore, an Airbus deal would tip the scales in favor of the European aircraft manufacturer, leaving Boeing standing more precarious amidst tense relations between Beijing and Washington.

Before the pandemic, China held the distinction of being the world's largest source of outbound tourists. Among the last major nations to reopen its borders, China's airlines have primarily concentrated on procuring smaller aircraft for domestic and regional flights.

In the previous year, Airbus secured one of its largest orders ever, supplying nearly 300 narrow-body jets to four prominent Chinese airlines.

Airbus did not comment on the matter, emphasizing that the Toulouse, France-based aircraft manufacturer is consistently engaged in discussions with clients, and the nature of such negotiations remains confidential.

It is customary for the Chinese government to sign bulk orders and subsequently allocate them to the country's state-owned carriers. The A350, Airbus's largest model, has dwindled to a mere 54 units among Chinese carriers, as opposed to 654 single-aisle jets.

As the leading airline in terms of fleet size, China Southern Airlines currently awaits delivery of 15 widebody aircraft for its existing fleet of 879 jets, further demonstrating the growth trajectory of China's civil aviation market.