Iberia has signed a contract with Airbus for the acquisition of 12 A340-600s (five firm and seven options), bringing to 15 its acquisition of Airbus' latest and largest airliner to date. This confirms a decision announced by the Spanish flag carrier at the end of January, following a long and intensive evaluation process as part of its fleet renewal. The newly ordered firm aircraft will be delivered between 2004 and 2006. They will follow Iberia's first three A340-600s which the airline will start receiving this summer.

The A340-600s will replace the carrier's ageing 747 fleet on long haul routes, bringing considerable savings due to lower fuel consumption, better operational efficiency and greater cargo capacity. Together with a fleet of 18 A340-300s currently in service, they will be operated mainly on the airline’s routes from Madrid to major Latin American cities.

In Iberia's spacious layout, the A340-600 will accommodate ten passengers in First class, 42 in Business and 300 in Economy. Powered by four Rolls Royce Trent 500 engines, the aircraft will also be equipped with the latest in passenger entertainment and communication systems.

"The A340-600 will enable Iberia to increase its presence in the Latin American market and contribute to furthering our leadership, while offering optimised services to our customers. Our selection of the A340-600 follows a thorough evaluation and is mainly driven by the high level of flexibility and commonality with our A340-300 and single-aisle A320 Family fleets," said Xabier de Irala, President of Iberia. "This additional order is also a clear indication of our confidence in the future and the continuous growth of passenger and cargo air traffic in spite of current global economic difficulties."

"We are very honoured that once again Iberia, one of our largest customers in the world, has chosen to further its partnership with us, by increasing its order for the A340-600," said Noel Forgeard, Airbus President and CEO. "The A340 constitutes the clear market leader both in terms of aircraft sold and customers. Once again, we are committed to providing Iberia with the best in terms of both quality of product and customer services."

Iberia, an Airbus customer since 1978, has ordered a total of 109 aircraft from Airbus including 30 A340s and 75 A320 Family aircraft. Currently, Iberia operates a fleet of 18 A340s, four A319s, 58 A320s and seven A321s, all fly-by-wire aircraft that offer unique operational commonality thus generating remarkable cost savings.

With greater revenue-generating capability, operating costs lower than competing aircraft, passenger-pleasing seating in all-new cabin interior and outstandingly low noise levels, the A340 Family is setting standards in long-haul air travel.

With a total of some 760 orders from over 60 customers, Airbus’ A330/A340 Family is the market leader in the 250-375 seater segment, representing a 55 per cent market share.

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 and Japan. Headquartered in Toulouse, France, Airbus is an EADS joint Company with BAE SYSTEMS.