China Eastern Airlines signed a contract with Airbus today in Shanghai for the firm order of 20 A320 aircraft, scheduled for delivery from the beginning of 2003. The newly ordered aircraft will be powered by CFM International engines.

The purchase agreement was signed by Ye Yigan, Chairman of China Eastern Airlines and John Leahy, Chief Commercial Officer of Airbus in a ceremony presided over by Liu Shaoyong, President of China Eastern Airlines.

"Selection of the A320s will improve our operating efficiency thanks to the aircraft's commonality with our existing fleet," said China Eastern Airlines President Liu Shaoyong during the signing ceremony. "The expansion of our A320 fleet further reinforces the foundation for our continued growth and prosperity."

"We are delighted that China Eastern Airlines, our first and largest customer in China, is giving a further vote of confidence to our products," said John Leahy, Airbus Chief Commercial Officer.

"We are extremely pleased that China Eastern Airlines has again selected the A320 to expand its fleet," said NoŽl Forgeard, Airbus President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO). "This agreement marks a new milestone in the long-standing cooperation between China Eastern Airlines and Airbus. The close partnership between our companies is a great source of pride for us."

The best-selling A320 Family's optimised cabin cross-section has set a new standard for passenger comfort in single-aisle aircraft, allowing for wider seats and aisles as well as more capacious overhead stowage. Comprised of the A318, A319, A320 and A321, which all share the highest degree of commonality and economy, the A320 Family offers many advantages for operators, such as reduced maintenance and training costs. By the end of March, the A320 Family had booked 2,782 firm orders from 108 customers worldwide.

Based in Shanghai, China Eastern Airlines is one of the three largest airline groups in China, with air links to more than 40 domestic destinations and over 20 cities abroad. The airline operates a fleet of more than 70 aircraft, 43 of which are Airbus aircraft.

Airbus' market share has grown steadily since it entered China in 1985. The Airbus fleet in service in the Chinese mainland, Hong Kong and Macao has grown to 168 today from 29 in 1995. A state-of-the-art training and service centre, which represents an US$80 million investment by Airbus, is fully operational in Beijing. In the field of industrial cooperation, four Chinese manufacturers are already involved in manufacturing parts, such as wing components, emergency-exit doors and maintenance tools, for Airbus aircraft.

A leading aircraft manufacturer, Airbus is a global company with design and manufacturing facilities in France, Germany, the UK and Spain as well as subsidiaries in China, Japan and the U.S. Headquartered in Toulouse, France, Airbus is an EADS joint Company with BAE SYSTEMS.