China’s largest operator of Airbus aircraft, China Eastern Airlines, has taken delivery of its first A320 equipped with sharklet fuel-saving wing-tip devices, becoming the first Chinese carrier to do so.
The aircraft is also the first sharklet-equipped Airbus A320 assembled and delivered at the Airbus Final Assembly Line (FALC) in Tianjin.
China Eastern Airlines’ latest A320, powered by IAE V2500 engines, features a two class cabin, seating 158 passengers with eight in business class and 150 in economy. The A320 will make its first commercial flight from Shanghai to Dalian on May 18.
“As the first and biggest Airbus customer in China, China Eastern and Airbus have long-term good cooperation,” said Shu Mingjiang, vice president flight operations for China Eastern Airlines. “China Eastern is honored to be the first customer of [the] A320 with sharklets in China. In the near future, China Eastern will further expand our sharklet-equipped A320-family fleet.”
“It is a mark of our close ties that the biggest Airbus fleet operator in China is also the first Chinese carrier to benefit from up to [a] 4 per cent reduction in fuel costs”, noted John Leahy, Airbus chief operating officer, customers.
Sharklets are made from lightweight composite materials and are 2.4 meters (7.9 feet) tall. They are an option on new-build Airbus A320-family aircraft and standard on all members of the new Airbus A320neo family.
The drag-reducing sharklets offer operators up to a four per cent fuel burn reduction on longer-range sectors and provide the flexibility of either adding an additional 100 nautical miles (185 kilometers) of range or increased payload capability of up to 450 kilograms (992lb).
China Eastern Airlines is one of the three largest airlines in China and in 1985 became the first Chinese carrier to operate an Airbus aircraft.
Now China Eastern operates an Airbus fleet of more than 230 aircraft. Its Airbus fleet includes A300s, A319s, A320s, A321s, A330s and A340s.
The Airbus Tianjin Delivery Center has delivered 126 aircraft since deliveries from the Airbus FALC began in June 2009 and it plans to deliver a total of 46 aircraft in 2013.
To date, more than 9,400 Airbus A320-family aircraft have been ordered and more than 5,500 delivered to more than 385 customers and operators worldwide.