Airbus officials capitalised on the presence of British Prime Minister Tony Blair yesterday to promote the sale of 10 A330s to China Southern Airlines in a deal estimated at US$1.8 billion at list prices. The deal came one week after the airline's management finalised its long-awaited purchase of 10 Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft, the model the United States-based manufacturer developed in response to the success of the A330. After manufacturers' discounts, which frequently reduce list prices by as much as 30 per cent, China Southern committed to about $17 billion in new aircraft this week. China's biggest airline by capacity will take delivery of the aircraft over two years from 2007 as it looks to upgrade the fleet it uses on core domestic and regional routes. The order comprised eight A330-300s and two A330-200s, the longest-range twin-engine aircraft that the Toulouse-based company now offers. China Southern, which derived just 15 per cent of interim sales from international routes, lost 907 million yuan in the first half despite a 63.3 per cent surge in revenue in its first earnings declaration since merging with China Northern and Xinjiang airlines. Its dependence on the domestic market has limited its ability to pass on soaring fuel costs to passengers. Mainland fuel surcharges can be as little as 25 per cent of what rivals such as Hong Kong Dragon Airlines are able to levy.