Flag carrier Air China has signed a contract with Airbus for six additional A319s. The aircraft, powered by CFM International’s CFM56-5 engines, are scheduled for delivery in 2005.
The carrier plans to deploy the aircraft mainly on Chengdu-Lhasa and other routes linking high-altitude airports in Sichuan Province and Tibet in southwest China which Air China serves with A319 and A340-300 aircraft.

"With its outstanding performance, the A319 is an aircraft suitable for our operations at high-altitude airports. It fits perfectly our strategic development in the western region of China, which increasingly attracts passengers whether travelling for business or pleasure," said Ma Xulun, President of Air China. "We will also benefit from the A319's commonality with our A320s, which will help us reduce training and maintenance costs, and increase our operational flexibility.”

The A319 is a member of the A320 Family, which consists of the A318, A319, A320 and A321, the world's fastest selling single-aisle family. The A319 has already shown its outstanding performance at high-altitude airports in Latin America, and the more challenging airports at Lhasa and Bangda airports in Tibet, among the highest in the world. Lhasa and Bangda are 3,570 and 4,334 metres (11,712 and 14,218 feet respectively) above sea level.

"We are extremely happy to see that the performance of the A319 is able to meet the stringent operational requirements at the most challenging airports," said Airbus President and CEO Noel Forgeard. "Airbus attaches great importance to its traditional relations with Air China and we are convinced that the A319 will further boost the fast development of the airline.”

Airbus’s business in China has been steadily expanding since it first entered the country in 1985. The Airbus fleet in service in the Chinese mainland, Hong Kong and Macao has grown to more than 250 today from just 29 in 1995. A world-class training and support centre, which represents a US$80 million investment by Airbus, is fully operational in Beijing. Five Chinese companies are already involved in producing parts for Airbus aircraft.

Airbus is an EADS joint Company with BAE Systems.