Airline to take full benefit of Airbus commonality
Airbus today delivered to Sichuan Airlines the very first widebody aircraft, an A330-200, to add capacity to its existing all-Airbus Single Aisle fleet. The A330 is the first of three brand new Airbus A330-200s that Sichuan Airlines has leased from the Netherland's-based AerCap Aviation Solutions.
While expanding its regional and international network, Sichuan Airlines intends to compete on high density routes with the most modern and cost-effective widebody aircraft on the market. The fleet of A330s will be deployed on domestic trunk routes from the airline's home base of Chengdu to major cities such as Beijing and Shenzhen; on regional routes within Asia and on international long haul routes from Chengdu to Europe. The A330s will be configured in a comfortable two-class lay-out with 36 first class and 209 economy seats.
This delivery comes as a key milestone for Sichuan Airlines after successfully operating A320 Family aircraft for the last 15 years. Airbus aircraft share a unique cockpit and operational commonality, allowing airlines to use the same pool of pilots, cabin crews and maintenance engineers, bringing operational flexibility and resulting in significant cost savings. Today, Sichuan Airlines operates 44 Airbus A320 Family aircraft (13 A319s, 21 A320s, 10 A321s).
"In the past decades, Sichuan Airlines has evolved from a regional airline to a national airline connecting Chengdu to all provinces across China as well as more than 20 popular tourist destinations. The reliable and efficient Airbus Single-Aisle aircraft were decisive in this success. It was then a natural choice for us to select the A330s to help us to become one of the top five Chinese airlines," said Mr. Lan Xinguo, Chairman of Sichuan Airlines.
"We are delighted to support the rapid expansion of our old friends at Sichuan Airlines. We believe the low operating cost and excellent cabin comfort of the A330s will be key ingredients for the airline's continuing success," said John Leahy, Airbus Chief Operating Officer Customers.
During its long standing relationship with Airbus, Sichuan Airlines has recorded a number of premieres in China. The airline was the first to introduce a fly-by-wire aircraft, an A320 in 1995, the first to operate an A321 and is flying the first A320 assembled at FALC in Tianjin. In order to operate the newly built A330 fleet in a more efficient and cost-effective way, Sichuan Airlines was also the first Chinese airline to sign for the Airbus Flight Hour Services (FHS), a customized service with strong support from Airbus' worldwide customer services system.
The twin engine A330 is one of the most widely used wide body aircraft in service today. To date, Airbus has won more than 1,000 orders for the various versions of the aircraft. More than 600 A330s have already been delivered and the aircraft is currently flying with over 80 airlines worldwide.