Singapore Technologies Marine (ST Marine), a leading shipbuilder which is part of the Singapore Technologies Engineering Group, has been selected to build two large roll-on and roll-off vessels for the shipment of A380 sections. The two vessels are due for delivery in 2008 and will join the existing A380 Transport vessel "Ville de Bordeaux", which entered service in 2004. The new vessels are being commissioned by FRET/Cetam, a subsidiary of Louis Dreyfuss Armateurs of France and Leif Hoegh of Norway. The value of the two vessels is €60 million.

Airbus will use the new vessels for the transportation of A380 sections from its sites in Hamburg, Germany, Broughton, UK, Puerto Real, Spain and Saint Nazaire, France to a port facility close to Bordeaux in France. Special barges then carry the aircraft sections along the River Garonne to Langon, where they are then transferred to road trailers for the final 250 km journey to the A380 final assembly line in Toulouse.

The 3,500 dwt Ro/Ro vessels measure approximately 127 m long and 21 m wide and are specially designed to transport aircraft sections efficiently and are equipped with highly automated ship control systems. To meet the special requirements for loading aircraft sections, the vessels will incorporate unique features such as a stern mooring system, cargo hold environment control and lashing arrangements. The vessels are designed with a cargo deck space of approximately 9,300 square meters and lanes totalling 3,100 m.

The A380, due to be delivered to launch customer Singapore Airlines in late 2006, is the most advanced, spacious and efficient airliner yet produced. Launched in December 2000 and making its first flight in April 2005, the aircraft, which is to become the "flagship of the 21st century" was designed in close collaboration with major airlines, airports and airworthiness authorities.

Combining the very latest technologies for materials, systems and industrial processes, the A380 will meet the most stringent international certification requirements. With an ability to carry 35 per cent more passengers than its closest rival and offer 50 per cent more floor space, the A380 enables airlines to deliver unparalleled comfort in every class and more open space for passengers to stretch their legs.

Airbus currently holds 159 firm orders for the A380 from 16 customers, including 49 orders from Asia - Pacific carriers including Singapore Airlines, Qantas Airways, Malaysia Airlines, Korean Air, Thai Airways International, China Southern Airlines and Kingfisher Airlines.

Airbus is a leading aircraft manufacturer with the most modern and comprehensive family of airliners on the market, ranging in capacity from 100 to more than 500 seats. Airbus has delivered more than 4,100 aircraft to 260 customers and operators world-wide, and boasts a healthy deliver backlog of well over 2,000 aircraft, which, at current rates, represents some four to five years of production. With an annual turnover of €22.3 billion in 2005, Airbus is a global company with design and manufacturing facilities in France, Germany, the UK, and Spain, as well as subsidiaries in the U.S., China and Japan. Headquartered in Toulouse, France, Airbus is a joint EADS Company with BAE Systems.