Air China signed a contract with Airbus on July 21, 2005 for the purchase of 20 Airbus A330-200s, scheduled for delivery from May 2006, becoming a new customer of the aircraft in China. China Aviation Supplies Import and Export Group (CASC) was also involved in this deal by signing a GTA with Airbus. Air China President Li Jiaxiang, CASC President Li Hai and Airbus President & CEO Gustav Humbert signed the contract and GTA at the Great Hall of the People. Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero witnessed the signing ceremony. ?These 20 A330-200 aircraft will help us expand our fleet and open new international routes, ? said Li Jiaxiang, President of Air China. ?A330-200 will also further strengthen our reliability, punctuality and efficiency, and improve our competitiveness in the global market. ? ?We are very pleased to be part of the successful cooperation between Air China and Airbus. Airbus is the largest airliner manufacturer in the world and provides Chinese customers with the most complete range of aircraft family. CASC is willing to help both sides to continue the win-win cooperation,? said Li Hai, President of CASC. Air China operates 16 A319s, five A320s and six A340s. The selection of 20 A330-200s will further diversify its Airbus fleet. Today?s signature once again shows both Air China and CASC?s new vote of confidence to Airbus aircraft. ?Today?s A330 contract is the first one that I am signing since I took over my new responsibilities last month. I am very happy this happens to be with Air China, the flagship carrier of China,? said Gustav Humbert, Airbus new President and CEO, ?Airbus also enjoys a good and long lasting relationship with CASC, and we highly appreciate the confidence CASC has shown to Airbus over the years.? The A330 is renowned for being the most efficient aircraft in its class, combining the lowest operating costs with highly efficient cargo capabilities that enhance the airline?s profitability through freight operation. The A330 also offers the most spacious cabin of any wide-body aircraft in its category. Airbus? 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 nearly 300 a/c 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. Airbus is an EADS joint Company with BAE Systems.