Airbus signed a deal worth tens of billions of dollars on Monday to sell 300 aircraft to China, coinciding with a visit to Europe by Chinese President Xi Jinping and matching a China record held by US rival Boeing.
The deal between Airbus and China's state buying agency, China Aviation Supplies Holding Company, which regularly coordinates headline-grabbing deals during diplomatic visits, will include 290 A320-family jets and 10 A350 wide-body jets.
French officials said the deal was worth some 30 billion euros at catalogue prices. Planemakers usually grant significant discounts.
The larger-than-expected order, which matches an order for 300 Boeing planes when US Donald Trump visited Beijing in 2017, follows a year-long vacuum of purchases in which China failed to place significant orders amid global trade tensions.
It also comes as the grounding of the Boeing 737 MAX has left uncertainty over Boeing's immediate hopes for a major jet order as the result of any warming of US-China trade ties.
There was no evidence of any direct connection between the Airbus deal and Sino-US tensions or Boeing fleet problems, but China watchers say Beijing has a history of sending diplomatic signals or playing off suppliers through state aircraft deals.
"The conclusion of a big (aviation) contract ... is an important step forward and an excellent signal in the current context," French President Emmanuel Macron said in a joint address with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping.
The United States and China are edging towards a possible deal to ease a months-long tariff row and a deal involving as many as 200 to 300 Boeing jets had until recently been expected as part of the possible rapprochement.
China was also the first to ground the newest version of Boeing's workhorse 737 model earlier this month following a deadly Ethiopian Airlines crash, touching off a series of regulatory actions worldwide.