The China Aviation Supplies Imp. & Exp. Group Corporation (CASGC) signed a General Terms Agreement (GTA) with Airbus today in Beijing for a firm bulk order of 30 Airbus aircraft, scheduled for delivery from 2004.

Under the agreement, these 30 aircraft, including 4 A330s, 16 A319s and 10 A320s, will be operated by China Southern Airlines Group, Air China Group, China Eastern Airlines Group, Hainan Airlines and Sichuan Airlines.

Airbus President and CEO Noel Forgeard Airbus and CASGC President Li Hai signed the agreement at the Great Hall of the People. Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and French Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin witnessed the signing ceremony.

Importantly, the A330 will operate with an airline on the Chinese mainland for the first time.

"CASGC has enjoyed a very good cooperative relationship with Airbus for many years," CASGC President Li Hai said. “With joint efforts, we hope that Airbus could provide more modern and economic aviation products to Chinese airlines, while CASGC could offer high quality and value-added services to Chinese airlines."

"Selection of the A330s, A320s and A319s has diversified and expanded Airbus fleet in China, marking a significant breakthrough for Airbus," said Airbus President and CEO Noel Forgeard. "We consider China a strategic market and we are delighted that Chinese airlines are giving us a new vote of confidence by selecting more Airbus aircraft."

The A330 will enable Chinese airlines to open new domestic trunk routes and new international routes, while significantly reducing operating costs. The A320 and A319 will do an outstanding job for the airlines, providing passengers with more comfort, higher reliability and unbeatable operating economics.

The A330 is renowned for being the most efficient aircraft in its class, combining the lowest operating costs with highly efficient cargo capabilities that enhance airline profitability through freight operations. The A330 also offers the most spacious cabin of any wide-body jet in its category.

The best-selling A320 Family’s optimized cabin cross-section has set a new standard for passenger comfort in single-aisle aircraft, allowing for wider seats and aisles as well as more spacious overhead stowage. Comprised of the A318, A319, A320 and A321, which all share the highest degree of commonality and economy, the A320 Family offers many advantages for operators, such as reduced maintenance and training costs.

Airbus’s business in China has been steadily expanding since it first entered the country in 1985. The Airbus fleet in service in the Chinese mainland, Hong Kong and Macao has grown to about 190 today from 29 in 1995. The CASC/AIRBUS Customer Services Training and Support Centre, which represents a US$80 million investment by Airbus, is fully operational in Beijing. Four Chinese manufacturers are already involved in manufacturing of Airbus parts, such as wing components, passenger doors and maintenance tools.

A leading aircraft manufacturer with the most modern and comprehensive product line on the market, Airbus is a global company with design and manufacturing facilities in France, Germany, the UK, and Spain as well as subsidiaries in the U.S., China and Japan. Headquartered in Toulouse, France, Airbus is an EADS joint Company with BAE SYSTEMS.