From the Airbus website:Emirates Commits to the A3XX
Emirates has announced its decision to be a launch customer for the A3XX. This decision comes after a thorough evaluation of the aircraft's performance and economics. During a joint press conference today in Dubai, His Highness, Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al-Maktoum, Chairman of Emirates, confirmed that he has officially notified the consortium's Chief Executive Officer Noël Forgeard that Emirates would acquire up to ten A3XXs, of which five would be firm, for deliveries starting in 2006, as soon as the final launch decision is made. The ten aircraft could include two freighters. Emirates is thus the first airline to officially commit to the project.
The A3XX is currently under development at Airbus Industrie. In its initial version, the A3XX-100, will be able to carry 555 passengers in a standard-three class layout over distances up to 7,650 nm/14,150 km. The aircraft is scheduled to make its first flight in 2004 and enter service in the last quarter of 2005.
When announcing Emirates' decision, Sheikh Ahmed highlighted the benefits Emirates would draw from the A3XX. "Emirates has built its success on the quality of its service, offering its passengers the best that is available. The A3XX will provide a host of innovations which will make the journey even more pleasant to the passenger, while offering substantially lower operating costs", said Sheikh Ahmed. "This is why we are very interested in acquiring this all- new aircraft which will help us continue further to improve our service and to ensure our growth".
Based on an entirely new design which will integrate the most advanced technologies, the A3XX-100 will offer 17 per cent lower seat operating costs compared to the 747-400, while providing up to 35 per cent more seats and 350 nm/ 650 km more range. Over the past four years, Airbus Industrie has performed extensive development work, involving concerned parties to a so far unmatched level, with up to 20 major airlines - including Emirates - some 50 airports, as well as numerous suppliers assisting in the definition of the project. This approach ensures that the A3XX will perfectly match carriers' future needs while fitting into the existing operational infrastructures with ease. It also gives the A3XX the potential for an extended and longstanding family.
Mr. Forgeard expressed the consortium's satisfaction at this announcement. "We are extremely honoured that an airline of the standing and development potential of Emirates, which was already a launch customer of the A330-200 and A340-500/600, is now ready to commit to the A3XX", he said. "This is a first very clear endorsement of our work by the market, and it confirms that we are on the right track when seeking the launch of this all-new very large aircraft," he added. "This early commitment and other fruitful on-going discussions give us great confidence that the programme will be a commercial success, and that it will bring value to both customers and shareholders."
Starting 30 years ago with the launch of the first ever widebody twin, the A300, Airbus Industrie set new standards by developing an innovative product range that brought unprecedented benefits to both passengers and operators. The A3XX provides the ultimate complement at the top end of the Airbus aircraft family - a product range which won Airbus Industrie 55 percent of the market in 1999.