UK-based low-cost carrier easyJet has signed a firm contract with Airbus for 20 more Airbus A319s, taking its total firm orders for the type to 140 and consolidating its role as the largest European customer for the A320 Family.

Like the rest of easyJet's Airbus A319 fleet, the new aircraft will seat 156 passengers in an all-economy layout, and be powered by CFM International CFM56-5s.

"Our original agreement with Airbus for up to 240 A319s was a great deal for our shareholders and customers which underpins our low cost base and our continued ability to offer low fares to our 30 million customers," says easyJet Chief Executive Andrew Harrison. "Today's announcement for a further tranche of 20 aircraft marks another step in easyJet's continuing development as Europe's best low-fares airline."

easyJet flies 59 Airbus A319s on services throughout Europe, achieving an excellent operational reliability of 99.8 per cent in the third quarter of this year, plus an enviable daily utilisation of nine and a half hours per aircraft - an average of 6.5 sectors a day.

"It is customers like easyJet that help to give the Airbus A320 Family such a good name, especially in the low-cost community, in which the airline is widely regarded as an industry leader," says Airbus President and CEO Gustav Humbert. "This is another sales success for the Airbus A320 Family and, more importantly, another step into the future in our partnership with easyJet."

The only all-new modern single-aisle family in the 100-185 seat class, the A320 Family features the fly-by-wire controls that have become today's industry standard, time-saving centralised maintenance, weight-saving carbonfibre composites, and a cockpit common to every other Airbus passenger aircraft in production today.

Passengers love the wider seats and extra comfort that the Airbus A320 Family makes possible, while airlines warm to its economics and reliability and investors appreciate the value that it delivers and retains.

Long a favourite of established carriers, the Airbus A320 Family is now also the leader among airlines based on low-fare models, consistently winning the most market share in both categories.

Airbus A320 Family orders now stand at almost 4,000 aircraft, and have been ordered by, or are in service with, more than 200 customers and operators.

Airbus is an EADS joint company with BAE Systems.