US Airways plans huge Airbus order

US Airways has
agreed to terms with Airbus for 60 single-aisle A320-family aircraft
and 32 widebody aircraft, including the next generation A350 XWB.The
A320-family planes would replace 60 older aircraft in the airline’s fleet.

The airline is also reaffirming its commitment to the A350 widebody
program by increasing its previously announced order of 20 A350s by two to 22
A350 XWBs in both the -800 and larger -900 series configuration. This allows
for modest international expansion or replacement of existing older technology
aircraft should market conditions warrant.


The airline expects to take delivery of the first A350-800 in 2014,
becoming the North American launch customer for the fleet type, featuring
Rolls Royce engines.  Purchase rights for additional planes are included,
allowing for the eventual retirement of all other widebody jets and leaving
the airline with a single intercontinental fleet type of A350 XWBs.


Today’s announcement also includes 10 A330-200 aircraft with deliveries
starting in 2009 and flexibility to convert to A330-300 or longer range A340s.


The new A330-200s share fleet commonality with US Airways’ fleet of nine
existing A330-300s, but with a longer range and slightly smaller seating
capacity. Finally, these deliveries will facilitate the eventual retirement of
US Airways’ B767 fleet.

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The transaction also includes 60 A320-family aircraft with deliveries
beginning in 2010.


Increased commonality in the US Airways fleet will be substantial.  By
2012, more than 80 percent of the narrowbody fleet will be Airbus A320-family
aircraft. All three core types of the A320-family fleet are included in the
firm order.


US Airways currently holds firm orders for 37 A320 family aircraft for
delivery in 2009 and 2010, increasing total commitments to the plane type to
97. Classic Boeing 737-300/400s will be eliminated from the fleet as the A320s
are delivered. The narrowbody fleet count is expected to remain stable.


Doug Parker, US Airways Group, Inc. chairman and chief executive officer
said, “We are very pleased to once again partner with Airbus.  This
transaction sets the stage for the next generation of the US Airways fleet,
which will be among the youngest and most efficient in the U.S. airline
industry.  We’re very excited about the A350 program and have every confidence
that Airbus will manufacture a truly innovative and revolutionary aircraft.


“We know that all of these aircraft will serve customers and employees
well for many years to come,” Parker said.


US Airways President Scott Kirby added, “After much analysis we concluded
the A320 family is the perfect replacement for our retiring narrowbodies, and
the expanded widebody order is consistent with our needs to both replace
current aircraft and expand modestly internationally. These new planes will
improve economic efficiencies by not only reducing fuel consumption but fleet
complexities, which will lower maintenance costs, streamline training and help
realize flight crew synergies, specifically with cockpit commonality.”


“This new widebody order also allows US Airways to continue development of
our international gateway in Philadelphia as well as new service from our
other primary hubs with two to three new international destinations per year
being added across the globe. The A350 XWB will have significantly longer
range and payload capabilities but much lower costs than the A330s and 767s
they replace, opening up new profitable markets across the globe to Asia, the
Middle East and India,” Kirby added.


“US Airways operates the largest A320-family fleet in the world, so the
benefits of Airbus aircraft are already well known to the airline and its
millions of passengers,” said Airbus President and C.E.O. Louis Gallois.  “We
are very pleased to partner with US Airways as they modernize their fleet of
single-aisle and long-range aircraft and create new travel and shipping
options for their customers.”


The order is contingent upon execution of definitive purchase agreements,
expected in the coming weeks.
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