China Eastern Airlines has taken delivery of its first A340-600, the first of five on order from Airbus. Another two A340-600s and seven A320s will join the airline`s fleet this year. Two A340-600s are scheduled for delivery in 2004.
China Eastern herewith becomes the first operator of the ultra-long haul and high-capacity Airbus aircraft in the Chinese mainland, and the fifth worldwide, following Virgin Atlantic Airways, Cathay Pacific Airways, South African Airways and Iberia.
“The entry of the A340-600 into service marks the development of our long-haul operation and we expect the A340-600 to help us better compete on the international market,” said Ye Yigan, Chairman of the China Eastern Airlines group. “It is also a significant event showing that China Eastern Airlines starts walking out of the shadow of the recent crisis which has negatively affected trade and tourism. We are in a full recovery, in sharp contrast with the sluggish business weeks ago”, he added.
The new aircraft features a spacious 322-seat layout, offering accommodation for eight passengers in First class, 42 in Business and 272 in Economy, and providing interactive videos and entertainment systems for all passengers.
“China Eastern Airlines is the earliest and largest customer of Airbus in China. Since 1985, the two sides have carried out a fruitful cooperation, with China Eastern Airlines group operating 70 Airbus aircraft today,” said Airbus President and Chief Executive Officer No‘l Forgeard. “We are very proud to continue and further strengthen our partnership with this new delivery.”
Featuring the quietest cabin in the sky, the A340-600 is the largest variant of Airbus` market-leading A330/A340 Family. Powered by four Rolls-Royce Trent 500 engines, the aircraft has a range of 13,500 km (7,500 nm) and is capable of operating on ultra long-haul routes free from the constraints that govern long-range flights over oceans or desolate terrain with twin-engine aircraft. This translates into more direct and quicker routes, resulting in reduced flight times and substantial fuel and cost savings.
A leading aircraft manufacturer with the most modern and comprehensive product line on the market, Airbus is a global company with design and manufacturing facilities in France, Germany, the UK, and Spain as well as subsidiaries in the U.S., China and Japan. Headquartered in Toulouse, France, Airbus is an EADS joint Company with BAE SYSTEMS.