Today the Irish low fare airline Aer Lingus signed a contract with Airbus for the purchase of seven Airbus A320s to implement its European fleet simplification strategy. In addition to the purchased aircraft Aer Lingus has contracted to lease ten new A320s from International Lease Finance Corporation (ILFC). All seventeen aircraft are due to be delivered by the end of 2005 and will be powered by CFM 56-5 engines from CFM international.

The new A320s will join the airline's current Airbus fleet comprising four A320s, six A321s and seven widebody A330s.

In operating only Airbus aircraft, the Dublin based carrier will increase the benefits derived from Airbus' unique operational commonality. All members of the family, from the 107-seat A318 right through to the 380-seat A340-600, share the highest possible degree of commonality in airframes, on-board systems, flight decks and handling characteristics, which delivers key advantages to operators through significantly reduced operating costs.

"The move to a single aircraft type is a key element in our business strategy bringing very significant cost savings while increasing capacity and greatly improving our operational flexibility," says Aer Lingus Chief Executive Willie Walsh. "On the basis of this decision we will open fifteen new European routes over the next two years, adding to the fifteen new routes we have opened over the past two years. In summary the new fleet means more passengers will be able to benefit of more direct routes at even lower fares."

Noƫl Forgeard, Airbus President and Chief Executive Officer, said: "I'm especially proud that Aer Lingus' has chosen Airbus aircraft. This selection not only underlines the efficiency of our A320 Family aircraft in the low fares segment it also proves the A320 Family is the preferred choice in the aviation industry and one major way for airlines to save money."

The Airbus A320 cabin sets new standards for passenger comfort with wider aisles and larger overhead stowage for greater convenience and faster boarding and deplaning.

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.