Several Chinese airlines have signed Memoranda of Understanding with Airbus for up to 280 planes, Chief Operating Officer of Customers John Leahy said Sunday as he opened a new A320 assembly line in the Chinese port city of Tianjin. The MOUs cover three Airbus models, and several firm orders should be announced before the end of the year, Leahy said. The current MOUs do not include any A380s, but Leahy said it is "only a matter of time" before Air China adds the company's largest jet to its fleet.

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