Airbus today achieved a very significant milestone, when China Eastern (CES) took delivery of the 2500th A320 family aircraft, an A320. This auspicious occasion falls in the same month that the A320 Family reached 40 million flight hours, a statistic that underlines its position as the benchmark of single-aisle airliners.

“This is a historical day for Airbus and the aviation industry, as no other airliner programme has ever attained this level of deliveries in its basic version. This is a clear reflection of the success of this unique Family with customers and operators and with the travelling public”, said Gustav Humbert, Airbus president and Chief Executive Officer. “And as China Eastern Airlines was our first Chinese customer, we are delighted that this 2,500th aircraft has been delivered to them as part of their fleet expansion,” he added.

During the official delivery ceremony held in Toulouse, Chairman Li Fenghua said: “With this year being the twentieth anniversary of Airbus’ entry into the Chinese market, China Eastern Airlines is pleased to participate in such a significant milestone.” China Eastern Airlines already operates a fleet of 69 A320 Family aircraft. In 2005, this Shanghai-based carrier ordered an additional 20 A320 Family aircraft to further expand their worldwide fleet.

The A320 Family success on the market is such that in just over six years, delivery numbers have increased from 1,000 to 2,500, making it the best selling single-aisle family of all time. These delivery milestones will become increasingly frequent as the production ramp-up raises to 30 aircraft per month by the first quarter of 2006, a step necessary to meet the heavy demand for these aircraft in addition to the backlog of more than 1,100 airliners. Today A320 Family aircraft are in-service with some 160 operators and customers around the globe on the most varied network, flying very short “hops” with eight flights per day, or longer distances and long daily utilisations of up to 13 flight hours per day. All this with a fleet-wide average dispatch reliability that is significantly higher than 99 per cent, with more than 40 operators achieving 100 per cent.

A320 Family aircraft are also the undoubted reference for the low-cost carrier market. This positioning is due to their optimised cabin cross-section, creating unprecedented passenger comfort and quick turnaround times, as well as their equally-spaced seating capacities that accommodates between 100 and 185 passengers.

The A320, the first of the four-member A320 Family that entered into service in April 1988, pioneered the fly-by-wire flight control system, setting a new standard in world aviation. Fly-by-wire controls are not only lighter, but they provide for easier maintenance and offer better aircraft manoeuvrability for pilots, while also facilitating operational commonality.

By the end of June 2005, the best-selling A320 Family had more than 3,600 firm orders from 138 customers. It is the recognised technological leader in single-aisle aircraft, with advanced features such as fuel saving wingtip fences, weight-saving composites and the reliability that comes from its modern design and ease of maintenance. All Family members share the highest degree of commonality and economy, benefiting operators by their reduced maintenance and training costs. It also consistently leads in independent passenger and operator surveys.

Airbus is an EADS joint company with BAE Systems.