At the 1993 Paris Air Show, Airbus showed the world what the A340 – which had entered service earlier that year with Lufthansa and Air France - could do. An A340-200 dubbed the “World Ranger” set a series of records by flying around the globe with only one refuelling stop. From Le Bourget, it flew to Auckland in New Zealand and after just five hours on the ground continued its flight around the world to land in Paris 48 hours and 22 minutes after setting out. Such showmanship, albeit with a serious purpose, was a badly-needed tonic for an industry suffering its worst-ever financial crisis. The downturn which followed the first Gulf War lasted nearly three years. Yet Airbus had continued to pursue its ambitious new objective of capturing 50 per cent of the world market. In 1994, it almost achieved it for the first time as passenger numbers returned to normal, industry confidence surged back and aircraft sales picked up considerably. During the year – which saw the widebody A330 and the single-aisle A321 enter service - Airbus recorded 125 firm sales from 11 customers, compared to just 38 orders the year before. (In October 1993, the A330 had become the first aircraft to be simultaneously certified by the European Joint Aviation Authorities and the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration.)
Of the 1994 orders, 95 were for single-aisles, including 42 for the A319 - which was two years away from roll-out. The A330/A340 Family attracted 30 orders. Another milestone reached the same year was the 1000th delivery of an Airbus aircraft. To Airbus, this success, coming as it did on the back of a period of downturn, validated its strategy of offering families of aircraft sharing commonality to cover all sectors. The same year also saw another development in the commercial success of Airbus aircraft. The first A300-600 Freighter was delivered to Federal Express, marking the arrival of what was to become the most popular freighter on the market.
An increasingly global presence
Getting serious about the A3XX
An optimised corporate structure
Industrial launch of the A380
A380: from dream to reality