The Royal Thai Air Force (RTAF) has ordered an Airbus Corporate Jetliner (ACJ) for the transport of senior government officials, becoming a new customer for the type as well as the first client for it in the Asia-Pacific region.

The order highlights the increasing success of the Airbus ACJ in this role since it is already in widespread service with the governments of France, Italy, Qatar, Venezuela and the United Arab Emirates. In addition, it is also a favourite amongst private owners and executive airlines.

Delivery of the RTAFs Airbus ACJ, which is powered by CFM International CFM56-5B7/P engines, is planned for July 2004.

With twice the cabin diameter and three times the volume of traditional business jets, the Airbus ACJ is large enough to comfortably carry both senior officials and their support staff yet costs about the same to buy and operate.

Airbus' ACJ thus offers governments, companies and individuals valuable productive space in which to travel, backed by Airbus' modern aircraft design philosophy and its unmatched worldwide support network.

The RTAF's Airbus ACJ will feature four additional centre tanks (ACTs), giving it the range to fly one-stop to both Europe and North America while transporting some 30 passengers and their baggage.

"Airbus' ACJ will provide us with an economical, secure and reliable way to transport delegations of senior government officials and their support staff, especially when intercontinental travel is involved," says Air Marshall Chalit Pukbhasuk, Chairman of the RTAF committee.

The RTAF became one of Airbus' first customers for government transport in 1991, when it began operating an A310 in this role.

"Airbus aircraft have always played a big role in bringing peoples of our planet together, and we are delighted that they are now increasingly doing so for world leaders," says Airbus Chief Executive Officer Nol Forgeard.

Based on the Airbus A319 part of the world's most modern and successful airliner family the ACJ is unique in being certificated for public transport, and in offering fly-by-wire and Category 3B autoland.

Airbus is an EADS joint Company with BAE SYSTEMS.