Qantas Airways has signed a firm order for eight more of the world?s largest and most advanced passenger aircraft, the Airbus A380, taking the total number of A380s ordered by Australia?s national carrier to 20 aircraft. The formal signing, which also covered an additional four Airbus A330-200s, took place at a ceremony in Sydney on 21st December, 2006, attended by Qantas Chief Executive Officer, Geoff Dixon, Qantas Chairman, Margaret Jackson, Airbus President and CEO, Louis Gallois, and Airbus Chief Operating Officer ? Customers, John Leahy. The orders follow a commitment announced by Qantas in October 2006. ?The A380 is clearly the most suitable aircraft for Qantas to meet passenger traffic growth on our dense long haul routes. The aircraft will play a key role in alleviating airport congestion without losing capacity. It has breakthrough technology and everything we have seen reinforces our view that it is the best aircraft available for Qantas. It is an aircraft that will provide unprecedented comfort and space for our passengers and at the same time meet our payload and range requirements?, said Mr. Dixon. Qantas was one of the first airlines to commit to the A380 in 2000, placing an original order for 12 aircraft, first deliveries of which will commence in August 2008. ?A repeat order from a premier carrier like Qantas is more than a vote of confidence in the A380. It not only reaffirms Qantas? commitment to the product, it also shows that the A380 is an aircraft for the future of air travel. Certification has demonstrated that the aircraft is technically ready to fly. It also shows that the aircraft has all the characteristics in performance and comfort and economics to become a 21st century flagship for airlines?, said Mr. Gallois. On December 12th, 2006, the A380 powered by Rolls-Royce Trent 900 engines, received European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) type certification, after more than 2,600 flight hours and 800 test flights involving five aircraft. During the certification process, the A380 demonstrated easy airport acceptance and compatibility by visiting 38 airports around the world, delivering outstanding flight performance and operational economics. The A380 also has the lowest fuel burn per passenger of any passenger aircraft, resulting in low engine emissions. In addition, it is one of the quietest aircraft ever and complies with the world?s toughest noise restrictions at London?s Heathrow Airport. Qantas is one of Airbus? largest Pacific customers with a total of 65 Airbus aircraft either in service or on order, comprising a mix of A380s for long-haul flights to the USA and Europe, A330s for Asian and regional services, and A330s and A320s for its low-cost Jetstar operations. Airbus is an EADS company.