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Thu, Oct 26, 2006

And That's Not All -- New US Carrier Orders 65 A319s

Skybus Plans To Enter Service In 2007

This year, it appears "October surprises" aren't limited to politics... as Airbus is making a strong push for parity with Boeing in the year-to-date order tally. On Thursday, the European planemaker signed a firm agreement with Skybus, a new low-cost/low-fare airline based in Columbus, OH, for the purchase of 65 Airbus A319 aircraft.

The order is among the largest single orders for Airbus planes ever by a US carrier. The airline has not yet announced its engine selection for the single-aisle aircraft.

Each of the Skybus A319s will accommodate passengers in a single-class configuration. The number of seats and specific route structure remains confidential while the airline gears up to enter service in early 2007. The airline will initially operate leased A319s as it begins non-stop service from its home base in Columbus, while building its all-Airbus fleet.

"The significantly lower cost base delivered by operating the A319 will enable Skybus to deliver really low fares to our customers at our headquarters in Columbus," said Skybus Chief Executive Officer Bill Diffenderffer. "We believe the low costs and reliability of the A319, coupled with our low fares, will make for an unbeatable partnership as we grow our business and offer more low-fare destinations. We've carried out extensive research to ensure this aircraft can deliver our goal - really low fares and reliable service."

"It is exciting to get in on the ground floor of such a promising operation as Skybus," said John Leahy, Airbus Chief Operating Officer. "It has been a few years since an order of this meaning and magnitude has come from a low-cost start-up airline, and we are professionally flattered that Skybus has turned to the A319 as the core of its fleet. It's a true testament to the airline's confidence in our product and our people."

The A319 program was launched in 1993 with the first aircraft entering service in 1996. It is the third derivative in the popular A320 Family. Firm orders for the A320 Family -- consisting of the 107-seat A318, 124-seat A319, 150-seat A320 and 185-seat A321 -- currently stand at more than 4,500 aircraft from 166 customers.

The A320-family has by far been the breadwinner for Airbus this year -- with over four-fifths of Airbus' 500+ orders to date for some variant of the popular narrowbody.

News of the Skybus agreement comes on the heels of a 170-plane deal announced Thursday between Airbus and the Chinese government -- pushing Airbus' order tally to over 500 aircraft for the year. So far, that total trails Boeing, which reports 773 net orders to date. 

FMI: www.airbus.com, www.skybus.com

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