China agrees to buy 80 Boeing 737s

/ Source: The Associated Press

Boeing Co. said Tuesday it had struck a tentative agreement with China to purchase 80 narrow-body 737 airplanes.

The deal is valued at $4.6 billion at list prices, although customers typically negotiate steep discounts. It is expected to be finalized with individual Chinese carriers in the next few weeks.

The agreement is in addition to 70 airplanes China agreed to buy from the Chicago-based jetmaker in November, as part of a planned 150-plane purchase.

It was announced amid high-level meetings between Chinese and U.S. officials, and comes a week before Chinese President Hu Jintao is scheduled to visit the United States. His trip includes a tour of Boeing’s Everett, Wash. plant.

In December, China agreed to buy 150 of rival Airbus SAS’ jets, in a deal valued at more than $9 billion at list prices.