Sichuan Airlines Co., Ltd. signed a contract with Airbus today for four A319s, becoming a new customer for the type. The aircraft, powered by IAE V2500 engines, are scheduled for delivery from 2004 to 2005.
The four A319s are part of the General Terms Agreement (GTA) signed on April 25 in Beijing by the China Aviation Supplies Imp. & Exp. Group Corporation (CASGC) and Airbus for a firm bulk order of 30 Airbus aircraft.
The Chengdu-based carrier plans to deploy the aircraft mainly at the newly opened Jiuhuang Airport, which is around 3,400 meters / 11,200 feet above sea level. The airport is close to the well-known scenic spots of Jiuzhaigou Valley and Huanglong Scenic and Historic Interest Area, in southwest China?s Sichuan Province. The A319 also offers the potential for flying further afield to destinations such as Lhasa, Tibet and other high-altitude airports.
With the introduction of the A319s, traveling time from Chengdu to Jiuzhaigou and Huanglong will be reduced to around two hours by air from more than nine hours by bus.
"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 attracts passengers whether traveling for business or pleasure," said Lan Xinguo, President of the Sichuan Airlines at the signing ceremony in Jiuzhaigou Valley. "We will also benefit from the A319's commonality with our A320s and A321s, which will help us reduce training and maintenance costs, and increase our operational flexibility."
The A320 Family has already shown its outstanding performance at high-altitude airports in Latin America. However, Lhasa and Bangda airports in Tibet, among the highest in the world, are more challenging. Airbus has successfully made two A319 demonstration flights in Lhasa and Bangda, which are at 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 Sichuan Airlines and we are convinced that the A319 will further boost the fast development of the airline."
The relationship between Airbus and the Sichuan Airlines can be dated back to 1995, when the Chengdu-based carrier became the first A320 operator and first fly-by-wire operator in the Chinese mainland. Currently, it has a fleet of eight A320s and three A321s, which have been operating successfully.
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.
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.