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Fri, Mar 16, 2007

Airbus Delivers Its 800th A330-A340 Family Aircraft

Older Twinjet May Benefit From A350XWB Delays

While it's undeniable European planemaker Airbus has seen its share of bad press lately -- with delays to its A380 superjumbo, and the resulting financial crisis at the planemaker and parent company EADS, leading to the shedding of 10,000 Airbus jobs -- the manufacturer hasn't taken the news lying down.

In fact, Airbus has had its share of triumphs of late, as well, including two big impending orders for its upcoming A350XWB. One of the enticements Airbus is offering A350 customers is the opportunity to lease A330 widebodies -- spiritual predecessor to the more advanced A350XWB -- as holdovers until the newer plane is available for delivery in 2013. That policy not only may serve to boost A350 sales... it helps the bottom line on the A330, as well.

This week, Airbus celebrated the delivery of the 800th A330-A340 family aircraft, as Qatar Airways received an A330-200. Airbus also announced a ramp-up in production for the widebody twinjet -- and, to a lesser extent, its less-popular four-engine cousin -- from seven planes and month to nine by the middle of 2009.

"The A330/A340 family of aircraft continues to achieve tremendous success," said Airbus COO John Leahy. "The aircraft family is the first to break the 1000 order mark from more than 85 operators in this market segment. The continued success of this family of aircraft in the market place leads us to increase production rates."

This delivery also marked a milestone in the long relationship between Airbus and Qatar Airways, which operates a fleet of 52 Airbus planes, including 29 A330/A340 passenger aircraft. As ANN reported earlier this week, Qatar is also rumored to be considering adding up to 80 A350s to its order book, as well... which may, in turn, lead to even more A330s.

"The A330 and A340 aircraft family is the core of our fleet and our network development. This delivery is the sign of our long-standing partnership with Airbus which has grown from strength to strength," said Qatar Airways Chief Executive Officer Akbar Al Baker.

The A330 has also benefitted from increasing interest in the A330-derived Multi-Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) aircraft for military use. Airbus recently won orders for the aircraft from air forces in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, and the aircraft is also in the running for a lucrative tanker contract for the US Air Force.

FMI: www.airbus.com

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