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Travel News Asia Date: 18 June 2001

French flag carrier Air France signed a firm contract today at the Paris Le Bourget Airshow for the purchase of 10 A380-800s plus four options, thereby confirming its commitment to Airbus 21st century superjumbo.

The first Air France A380 is planned for delivery in November 2006, and will seat 550 passengers in an exceptionally spacious three-class layout. The French carrier plans to operate its new A380 superjumbos on long range routes from Paris to North America and Asia, gradually supplementing its 747-400 fleet to match traffic growth.

Air France is the first airline to select the new Engine Alliance GP7200 engine to power its A380 fleet. This engine, certificated at 76,500 lb (340 kN) of thrust, is the product of a joint venture between US engine manufacturers General Electric and Pratt & Whitney.

With the additional space we will be able to offer our passengers, this new aircraft gives Air France the opportunity to change the way people fly. These new standards of spaciousness and comfort, combined with our commitment to environmental friendliness, make this aircraft the ideal solution to accompany Air Frances growth in the 21st century, declared Air France President Jean-Cyril Spinetta.

We are extremely honoured that Air France, one of our largest customers and one of the leading airlines in the world, has chosen to be among the first to operate the A380, said Airbus Chief Executive Officer Nol Forgeard. And we are proud that our aircraft is destined to play a key role in this prestigious airlines continued development."

When it enters service in 2006, the A380 will offer all the advantages of a completely new design, while extending Airbus family benefits to the very large aircraft segment. Built to the latest and most stringent international certification requirements, the A380 embodies the most advanced technologies, providing significantly lower direct operating costs than the largest aircraft flying today as well as considerably more range.

With well 4,309 orders booked to date from 178 customers worldwide, Airbus offers the most modern and comprehensive airliner family in the world, consistently capturing about half of the market for commercial aircraft seating more than 100 passengers. Headquartered in Toulouse, France Airbus is an EADS joint Company with BAE SYSTEMS.

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