China Southern Airlines has taken delivery its first A330-200 of four on order, becoming the first operator of the aircraft in the Chinese mainland. The remaining three will be delivered in the first half of this year.

The aircraft, powered by Trent 700 engines of Rolls Royce, will seat 266 passengers in a two-class layout. "We will mainly put the A330-200s into operation on medium- and long-range routes, especially on new international routes that we plan to open. Our goal is to become an airline of prime choice by passengers," said Liu Shaoyong, Chairman of China Southern Airlines Company Limited.

"Introduction of the aircraft will offer our passengers a safe and comfortable in-flight experience. And we will also benefit from A330’s commonality with other members of the Airbus Family, which will help us reduce training and maintenance costs." "The introduction of the A330 marks a new milestone in our cooperation," said Noël Forgeard, Airbus President and Chief Executive Officer.

"We are pleased to see that we have established strategic relationship with China Southern Airlines, which has just committed to purchase five A380s and received its first A330-200 today. We are confident that the A330-200 will play an important role in the continued development of the airline." With a range of up to 6,650 nm/12,300 km, the A330-200 combines some of the lowest operating costs of any aircraft ever designed with maximum flexibility over medium to long-haul routes.

The A330 is part of the market leading Airbus A330/A340 Family which has been especially successful in Asia-Pacific, where it has been selected by some 20 airlines, including almost every major international carrier in the region. The A330/A340 Family has booked some 900 orders from over 70 customers worldwide. China Southern Airlines currently has more than 230 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. The airlines has 49 Airbus aircraft in service, with more than 40 Airbus aircraft to be delivered.

Airbus is an EADS joint Company with BAE Systems.