New Chinese airline East Star to introduce 20 Airbus A320s


TOULOUSE (Airbus) - East Star Airlines, a new Chinese airline based in Wuhan, today signed a Letter of Intent with Airbus for the purchase of 10 A320s plus a firm lease deal with GE Commercial Aviation Service (GECAS) for another 10 A320s, becoming a new Airbus customer in China.

Deliveries of the leased A320s to East Star will start from the second quarter of 2006. The aircraft will accommodate 128 passengers in a comfortable two-class configuration.

East Star, the first private airline in the central part of China, received approval for operation from the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) on June 10, 2005. Headquartered in Wuhan, the Capital city of Hubei Province, East Star Airlines plans to start operations in May 2006 with a network connecting more than 10 major Chinese cities, including Shenzhen, Nanjing, Xi'an, Haikou, and Hangzhou.

"The A320 family aircraft is no doubt the best choice for our new airline. Its unmatched low operating costs with the highest level of passenger comfort will help us take off smoothly and successfully," said Lan Shili, President of East Star Group. "We are very confident that by flying the best-selling aircraft in the world, we will not only ensure a good beginning of profitable operation, but also high standards of service quality for passengers on domestic routes in China."

"It is exciting to be involved in the initial phase of development of East Star Airlines," said Mike Jones, Senior Vice President, GECAS Asia. "We will make joint efforts with Airbus to ensure East Star Airlines' maiden flight is a great success and get its business off to a good start within one year's time."

"We are delighted to welcome East Star Airlines as our new customer in China," said Gustav Humbert, Airbus President and CEO. "We feel very proud that East Star Airlines has signed a Letter of Intent for the initial commitment to purchase 10 Airbus A320 aircraft. This shows a new vote of confidence from the Chinese private airlines in our modern family of aircraft."

The A320 Family, recognized as the benchmark single-aisle aircraft family, also includes the A318, the A319 and A321 versions and features the newest and most modern design of any single-aisle airliner, with a passenger-pleasing cabin that is popular with travellers - as independent surveys demonstrate. An advanced fuel-saving aerodynamic design, including wingtip fences, centralised maintenance with extended servicing intervals, and proven reliability in day-to-day service contribute to providing the lowest operating costs.

By the end of October 2005, 216 A320 family aircraft are already in service with ten operators in China, while a further 87 A320 family aircraft are still on order. More than 3,700 Airbus A320 Family aircraft have been ordered worldwide, of which more than 2,500 have been delivered to date. The Airbus 320 Family has some 200 customers and operators to its credit.

Headquartered in Toulouse, France, Airbus is an EADS joint company with BAE Systems.

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