Air China (CA, Beijing Capital) has announced in a stock market filing that it will buy eighteen A320neo Family narrowbodies from AFS Investment, a special purpose vehicle wholly-owned by GECAS.

The transaction includes five A320-200Ns and thirteen A321-200NXs, all of which are due to deliver by year-end. The airline did not specify when the deliveries would commence.

Air China said the purchase was driven by a combination of factors, including the competitive pricing of the aircraft, the speedy recovery of demand in the Chinese domestic market, and historically low interest and exchange rates. It plans to base the incoming jets out of Beijing and Chengdu. The carrier has bases both at Beijing Capital and Beijing Daxing Int'l in the capital, and will also open a base at Chengdu Tianfu once it opens at the end of June, in addition to Chengdu Shuangliu.

The aircraft will join Air China's Airbus narrowbody fleet comprising thirty-three A319-100s, forty-three A320-200s, thirty-three A320-200Ns, sixty-one A321-200s, and ten A321-200Ns. It also operates seventeen in-house B737-700s and 100 B737-800s. It has sixteen grounded B737-8s with 12 more on order. The Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) has not yet indicated when it will unground the type.

The ch-aviation fleets ownership module shows that GECAS has six aircraft placed with Air China, including one A320-200, two A321-200s, and three B737-800s. AerCap, which is merging with GECAS, dry-leases a single B737-800 to Air China. GECAS has a total of fifty-nine A320-200Ns in its portfolio, of which msn 8970, 9056, 9199, 9460, and 10079 are currently unassigned or in storage with no operator. The lessor's A321neo portfolio comprises nine A321-200Ns, nine A321-200NXs, and seven A321-200NX(LR)s, of which only a single A321-200N has no assigned customer. GECAS has unfilled orders for fifty-three A320-200Ns, seventy-six A321-200Ns, two A321-200NXs, and seventeen A321-200NX(XLR)s.