After an exhaustive evaluation of the competing next generation of long-haul aircraft, Finnair has announced its decision to acquire nine Airbus A350-900s to modernise and strengthen its long-range fleet. The first A350-900s will be delivered in 2011, offering unrivalled performance and economics across Finnair's long-haul network, and a brand new concept in cabin comfort for 314 passengers. Finnair will announce the engine choice at a later date.

Simultaneously, Finnair has also announced its intention to acquire three new A340-300Es, to cater for traffic growth and development of its Asian routes from the spring of 2007. The A340-300Es ("E" for Enhanced) will accommodate 303 passengers, and add to Finnair's existing fleet of MD-11s.

Mr. Keijo Suila, CEO of Finnair pointed out: "Having taken into account all competitive and economic factors, we decided to choose Airbus A350 wide-body aircraft for our future growth in long-haul traffic. Commonality with our Airbus A320 narrow body fleet was one of the key drivers in our decision making. Seamless transition from the current long-haul fleet to the new generation airplanes is safeguarded by using Airbus A340 series products. We are also extremely impressed by the new cabin features on the A350 and are delighted to join the rapidly growing group of A350 customers."

Airbus President and Chief Executive Officer Gustav Humbert said: "We are extremely pleased and honoured to have been selected by Finnair to participate in their long-haul fleet expansion with our long-range products, the new A350 and the A340-300E. Todayís decision is yet another endorsement of the success of the Airbus concept, delivering a true Family of products responding to the marketís needs in terms of technology, reliability, economics and passenger appeal. Therefore we are confident of the smooth integration of the new A340s and A350s in Finnairís existing A320 Family fleet".

Finnair already successfully operates a fleet of 29 Airbus A320 Family aircraft, including 11 A319s, 12 A320s and six A321s.

The A340-300E incorporates the newest technologies developed for the most recent Airbus long-range programmes. It features the latest flight deck equipment, provides increased passenger comfort and is equipped with CFM International CFM56-5C4/P, bringing lower fuel burn and emissions.

Due to enter service in 2010, the A350 Family will initially include two members. The A350-800 will carry up to 253 passengers in a three-class configuration up to 8,800 nm/16,300 km. Its larger sister, the A350-900, selected by Finnair, will accommodate as many as 300 passengers in a three-class layout up to 7,500 nm/13,890 km.

These new aircraft share the technologically advanced innovations of the A380 and are endowed with the latest technologies. With a new composite wing and a fuselage made of aluminium lithium that combine to give the whole aircraft up to 60 per cent advanced materials, with a new landing gear, a new cabin, and more than 90 per cent new manufacturing part numbers, the A350 will have an unassailable advantage when it comes to fuel consumption and seat-mile costs, as well as cash operating costs. In addition, it will retain full operational commonality with the current Airbus wide-body long-range fleet, allowing this new aircraft to benefit from the "Family effect", complementing the current leading A330 and A340 Family with which it shares the same Type rating.

Commitments and firm orders for the newly launched A350 Family now stand at 164 from 12 customers.

Airbus is an EADS joint company with BAE Systems.