Sichuan Airlines Co., Ltd. has taken delivery of its first Airbus A319 aircraft, becoming a new customer for the type. The A319 aircraft will seat up to 132 passengers in a very comfortable and flexible two-class layout and are equipped by V2500 engines from International Aero Engines to meet requirements of high-altitude operations.

This is the first of the four A319s ordered by the Chengdu-based carrier in 2003, and the remaining three will be delivered from December 2004 to 2005.

"We are pleased to deploy the modern aircraft on the routes linking with Jiuzhai Valley, Panzhihua, Lijiang and other high-altitude areas in west China, and will put the A319s into operation at Lhasa, Tibet in the future," said Lan Xinguo, Chairman and President of Sichuan Airlines Co., Ltd.

Sichuan Airlines has an excellent record in operating of the A320 Family aircraft with a strong technical support team.

"We are extremely happy to see that the performance of the A319 is able to meet the stringent operational requirements at the challenging airports," said Airbus President and CEO Noel Forgeard. "Airbus attaches great importance to its traditional relations with Sichuan Airlines and we are convinced that the A319 will further boost the fast development of Sichuan Airlines.”

The relationship between Airbus and the Sichuan Airlines can be dated back to 1995, when the Chengdu-based carrier became the first A320 operator and first fly-by-wire operator in the Chinese mainland. Currently, it has a fleet of 10 A320s and four A321s, which have been operating successfully.

The A319 is a member of the A320 Family, which consists of the A318, A319, A320 and A321, the world's fastest selling single-aisle family.

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 more than 250 today from just 29 in 1995. A world-class training and support centre, which represents a US$80 million investment by Airbus, is fully operational in Beijing. Five Chinese companies are already involved in producing parts for Airbus aircraft.

Airbus is an EADS joint Company with BAE Systems.