Penerbangan Malaysia Berhad (PMB), parent company of Malaysia Airlines, signed a firm contract for six A380-800 passenger aircraft with Airbus, firming up an earlier commitment announced in January this year.

Deliveries to PMB are scheduled to begin in 2007. The A380s will be operated by Malaysia Airlines on key trunk routes to Europe and the Asia-Pacific region. With PMBs order, Airbus now has 129 firm orders from 11 customers.

Built to the latest technological standards, the 555-seater A380 embodies the most advanced aircraft design features, providing 15 to 20 per cent lower operating costs than the largest aircraft flying today, and 10 to 15 per cent more range.

Dato' Gumuri Hussain, Managing Director & Chief Executive Officer of PMB said: "We are excited to have now finalised this major transaction which, we believe, has long term benefits to PMB, Malaysia Airlines and the country as a whole. This will also represent a continuation of two decade long relationship between Malaysia and Airbus. We believe the A380 aircraft will become a key part of our fleet."

Dato' Md Nor Yusoff, Managing Director of Malaysia Airlines said: "We are looking forward to the introduction of A380-800 into our operations as it will allow us to maintain our position as an airline in premier league. This sophisticated equipment will provide much-needed extra capacity on existing routes and enable us to maximize our presence in key markets and intensify our long term network expansion plan."

Nol Forgeard, Airbus President and Chief Executive Officer said: "We are indeed heartened that Malaysia Airlines has demonstrated its vote of confidence in Airbus A380 during these challenging times for the industry. I am confident that the aircraft will play a pivotal role in the future of Malaysia Airlines. This order once more demonstrates that the A380 is really the right aircraft at the right time to respond to market needs and future developments."

Airbus' presence in Malaysia dates back to 1978 when Malaysia Airlines placed its first order for the A300B4, becoming one of the early Airbus customers. The carrier currently operates twelve Airbus A330 aircraft. In October 2002, Airbus reinforced its ties with Malaysia through an agreement with Composites Technology Research Malaysia (CTRM) as a key supplier for A380 wing components, adding to earlier agreements covering composites work for the A300 and A320 family of aircraft. The first set of A380 wing components were handed over to Airbus in October 2003.

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.