SHANGHAI (AP) -- Air China, one of China's biggest carriers, said Thursday it plans to buy 20 Airbus A320 jets, expanding its fleet to keep up with rising demand.
The aircraft, costing a total of $1.63 billion, will be delivered over 2011 to 2014, the Beijing-based airline said in a statement.
The deal involves "significant price concessions" from Airbus and will increase Air China's fleet capacity by 5 percent, Air China said.
The new aircraft will help the development of a regional hub in the southwestern city of Chengdu, it said.
A320 jets seat from 107-220 passengers and are generally used for domestic short to medium-range routes, a fast growing part of China's travel market.
Airbus, a unit of EADS, has projected that Asia will need about 8,000 planes costing $1.2 trillion by 2028.
Passenger numbers in the region will likely grow an annual average of 5.9 percent during the next 20 years, overtaking the U.S. and Europe to become the largest air transport market.