The China Aviation Supplies Imp. & Exp. Group Corporation (CASGC) and Airbus signed an agreement for the purchase of 20 A330-300 aircraft. The aircraft are scheduled for delivery from the first quarter of 2006. Selection of the engines for the aircraft has yet to be decided.

The agreement was signed in a ceremony attended by Chinese Vice Premier Zeng Peiyan and French Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin.

“CASGC has enjoyed a very good cooperative relationship with Airbus for many years. With joint efforts, we hope that Airbus could provide more modern and economic aviation products to Chinese airlines, while CASGC could offer high quality and value-added services to Chinese airlines, “ CASGC President Li Hai said.

“We are delighted that China is giving us a new vote of confidence to our products,” said Airbus President and CEO Noel Forgeard. “This agreement marks a new milestone in the long standing cooperation of our two sides.”

The twin-engine A330 combines some of the lowest operating costs of any aircraft ever designed with maximum flexibility for a wide range of route structures. The A330-300, which first entered service in early 1994, typically seats 335 passengers in two classes or 295 passengers in three classes and can fly up to 5,600 nm/10,400 km.

The A330s will give airlines the full benefit of Airbus’ unique operational commonality, which will enable airlines to operate the A330s and A340s using the same pool of pilots, cabin crews and maintenance engineers. This gives airlines more crew and fleet planning flexibility and will result in significant cost savings in training, combined with unmatched passenger comfort.

CASGC‘s selection of the A330 further reinforces the remarkable success of Airbus’ A330/A340 Family as the preferred medium to ultra long-range aircraft among airlines worldwide. The A330/A340 Family has booked some 820 orders from more than 60 customers to date.

Airbus is a leading aircraft manufacturer with the most modern and comprehensive family of airliners on the market, ranging in capacity from 100 to more than 500 seats. Airbus has delivered more than 3,500 aircraft to 210 customers and operators world-wide, and boasts a healthy deliver backlog of some 1,400 aircraft, which, at current rates, represents some five years of production. With an annual turnover of €19.2 billion in 2003, 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 a joint EADS Company with BAE Systems.