The first Airbus A319 leased by East Star Airlines, a new Chinese airline, took to the sky successfully for its premier revenue flight from Wuhan to Shenzhen, making East Star Airlines a new Airbus A319 operator on the Chinese Mainland.

Configured in a two-class layout, the aircraft provides spacious capacity for 128 passengers. East Star plans to put this A319 into service on its newly opened trunk routes connecting Wuhan, Shenzhen, Haikou and Guangzhou.

"We are very proud to select the A319 for our first revenue flight and become the first private airline in Central China that operates the A319," said Lan Shili, President of East Star Group, "its optimised cabin cross-section, the widest single-aisle fuselage on the market, sets a new standard for passenger comfort and its unmatched low operating costs will also help ensure a smooth kick-off of our business."

Headquartered in Wuhan, the capital city of Hubei Province, East Star Airlines, with registered capital of RMB 80 million, received approval for operation from the General Administration of Civil Aviation of China (CAAC) on June 10, 2005. On November 2005, East Star Airlines signed a MOU with Airbus for the purchase of ten A320 family aircraft, plus a firm lease deal with GE Commercial Aviation Service (GECAS) for the lease of a further ten A320 family aircraft.

Airbus President & CEO Gustav Humbert said: "We are very pleased to welcome East Star as a new A319 operator in China. The A320 family is the undoubted reference for East Star and other new airlines in the Chinese market. We will provide full technical support to East Star and assist in further expanding its route network. We look forward to providing more new modern aircraft to the airline to help it achieve greater success in the future."

The A319, known by Chinese customers as the "Mountain Goat", performs excellently to high altitude airports. The first A319 made a successful demonstration flight to Tibet International Airport in 2001. Currently there are more than 70 A319s in service in the fleet on the Chinese Mainland.

The A320 Family, recognized as the benchmark single-aisle aircraft family, includes the A318, the A319, the A320 and the A321 versions and features the newest and most modern design of any single-aisle airliner, with a passenger-pleasing cabin. By the end of April 2006, More than 4,300 Airbus A320 family aircraft have been ordered worldwide, making it the most successful and the best-selling aircraft. More than 2,700 A320 family aircraft have been delivered to over 170 operators worldwide so far.

A leading aircraft manufacturer with the most modern and comprehensive product line on the market, 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, Japan and in the Middle East. Headquartered in Toulouse, France, Airbus is an EADS joint company with BAE Systems.