China Southern Airlines Company Limited and China Aviation Supplies Imp. and Exp. Group Corporation (CASGC) have signed in Paris a General Terms Agreement (GTA) with Airbus for the purchase of five A380s. This is the first commitment placed by a Chinese carrier for the A380, which herewith becomes the 15th customer for the all new very large Airbus airliner.

“As one of the largest carriers in China, we are pleased to join the list of renown customers for Airbus’ new double-decker. We believe that the A380 will further build our image of reliability, punctuality and efficiency and increase our competitiveness in the global market, ” said Liu Shaoyong, Chairman of China Southern Airlines Company Limited. “We also hope that the acquiring of the A380 will help China become a powerful civil aviation giant.”

“The A380 is the newest and largest airliner ever produced in the world. CASGC has enjoyed an excellent cooperative relationship with Airbus for many years. Through our joint efforts, Airbus can provide modern and economic aviation products to Chinese airlines, while CASGC can offer high quality and value-added services to Chinese airlines, and we are pleased to join the list of renown customers for Airbus’ new double-decker," CASGC Vice President Zhu Yanjun said.

“We are extraordinarily pleased to have received the first commitment for the A380 from China, which marks a significant breakthrough of our business in this important and strategic market,” said Airbus President and CEO Noël Forgeard. “The A380 will effectively accommodate ever growing air travel demand in the dynamic Chinese market, and will be able to provide first-class services to 2008 Olympics in Beijing, 2010 World Expo in Shanghai and 2010 Asian Games in Guangzhou.“

With today’s agreement, Airbus has now 154 orders and commitments from 15 customers for the A380 programme. Built to the latest and most stringent requirements, the world’s first full-length twin-deck aircraft embodies the most advanced technologies, providing unbeatable operating costs, more range, and greater comfort for passengers.

China Southern Airlines currently has 232 large and medium-sized aircraft, operating out of 17 bases on 660 routes. In 2004, the company achieved a turnover of around 40 million passengers, becoming one of the top ten passenger carriers in the world. Among all Chinese airlines, it boasts the largest fleet with the most bases, most extensive domestic networks and highest flight frequencies. Renowned for its excellent passenger services, the airline has won Five-star Diamond Award for flight services and has been honoured as China’s best airline by TTG Asia Magazine.

Airbus is an EADS joint Company with BAE Systems.