Tibet Airlines, a newly established Chinese airline based in Lhasa, has taken delivery of its first Airbus A319 to become Airbus’ newest operator in China.
The aircraft is the first of three A319s from an order which Tibet Airlines placed in May 2010.
In Tibet Airlines service, the Airbus A319 will accommodate 128 passengers in a two-class configuration, with eight seats in a premium-class cabin and 120 in economy class. Tibet Airlines chose CFM56-5B engines to power its A319s.
The aircraft will operate at the highest airports in the world – including Ali Kunsha, Tibet, which is above 14,000ft. The aircraft will fly RNP-AR (Required Navigation Performance – Authorisation Required) procedures from Beijing and Chengdu to Lhasa and other regional routes because of the mountainous terrain surrounding various Tibetan airports.
RNP-AR procedures allow an aircraft to fly precisely along a pre-defined route using on-board navigation systems and the GPS-based ‘Global Navigation Satellite System’ (GNSS). RNP-AR is especially important for operators based at high-altitude, mountain-surrounded airports. Tibet Airlines has selected Quovadis, Airbus’ flight operations services company, as its strategic partner for its RNP-AR operations.
“I am confident, the proven high-altitude flight performance of the A319 will enable us to offer our passengers the highest level of comfort on the highest altitude routes,” says Xu Bo, chairman of Tibet Airlines. “We aim to build a regional network covering all civil airports in Lhasa, Tibetan autonomous region.”
“We are honored that our modern Airbus A319 aircraft will contribute to the development of civil aviation on the Tibetan plateau and we warmly welcome Tibet Airlines as our new operator,” says Laurence Barron, president of Airbus China. “Today, over 85 per cent of the commercial flights to and from Tibet are already performed with an Airbus aircraft. We are now pleased that this number will rise further with Tibet Airlines’ RNP-capable A319s.”
Airbus says the A320 family has achieved 99.7 per cent average dispatch reliability and and notes that (unlike the Boeing 737NG and all other current single-aisle jets) the A320 family offers a containerized cargo system, which is compatible with the worldwide standard widebody system.