Confirming its commercial interest for the world's largest airliner publicly announced in early June, Air France has signed a letter of intent with Airbus Industrie for ten A3XXs, during a ceremony held today at the Farnborough Air Show. The French carrier, which has been involved since the spring of 1996 In various A3XX working groups and followed the project through different stages of its development, is thus set to become a launch customer of Airbus' all-new very large double-deck airliner. "The projected growth in air traffic we see, together with the totally new standards in terms of passenger comfort and economics that the A3XX will introduce in the very large capacity market while being extremely environmentally friendly, has convinced us that this aircraft is ideally suited to Air France's 21st century evolving needs", said Air France President Jean-Cyril Spinetta. Designed to respond to increasing pressures from traffic growth and congestion, as well as to meet more stringent economic and environmental imperatives, the A3XX represents the only solution for the bulk of air traffic to and from major hubs such as Paris. At the same time it will offer passengers wider seats and greater comfort, and will provide airlines with 15 to 20 cent per better economy per seat. "We are very honoured that Air France, one of our largest customers and one of the leading airlines in the world, is also becoming a launch customer of the A3XX, which will be the flagship of this century," declared Airbus Industrie Chief Executive Officer Noel Forgeard. Airbus Industrie began formally offering the A3XX to customers in June, with a full programme launch planned by the end of this year. First flight of the A3XX Is due in 2004, and entry into service In the last quarter of 2005. A total of nine customers, including Air France, have expressed interest in acquiring more than 50 A3XXs.
Airbus Industrie, July 24th