Toulouse, Saudi Arabian Airlines (Saudia), Saudi Arabia's national airline, has taken delivery of its first A320 directly bought from Airbus at a delivery ceremony in Toulouse with His Excellency Engineer Khalid Al Molhem, Director General of Saudi Arabian Airlines, and Airbus President and CEO, Tom Enders.

The delivery follows Saudia's firm order for 22 A320s placed in December 2007. The contract marked the first time in more than two decades that the carrier had placed an order with Airbus. Earlier in October, Saudia took delivery of a leased A320, becoming the newest operator of the type.

"Our fleet modernisation plan is driven by a desire to operate the world's best aircraft. The A320 is the right aircraft for our ambitious plans and offers unbeatable operational efficiency, proven reliability and the high cabin comfort our customers have come to expect," said HE, Al Molhem.

The CFM56 powered A320 will be deployed on routes in the region, to Europe and to the Indian subcontinent, from Saudia's hubs in Riyadh and Jeddah. Depending on configuration, the A320 fleet, will seat between 112 and 132 passengers in two-classes.

"We congratulate Saudi Arabian Airlines on taking delivery of their new A320, with 21 more directly purchased aircraft to follow. The A320 is and will remain for many years to come the benchmark in the single aisle aircraft category, which is why it is such an attractive asset for both our valued operators and lessors," said Tom Enders.

Saudia's A320 fleet will grow to 50 aircraft (22 directly purchased and 28 leased). Previously, Saudi Arabian Airlines were the launch customer for the Airbus A300-600, which was delivered in 1984.

Saudia's A320s are the first to be equipped with a high bandwidth in-flight entertainment system. The system is now an option on all Airbus aircraft families for the first time. It means passengers can access high speed services such as full audio and video on demand.

The A320 Family, which includes the A318, A319, A320 and A321, is recognized as the benchmark single-aisle aircraft family. Each aircraft features fly by wire controls and all share a unique cockpit and operational commonality across the range. Around 6,400 Airbus A320 Family aircraft have been sold to some 300 customers and operators worldwide, making it the world's best selling commercial jetliner ever. With proven reliability and extended servicing periods, the A320 Family has the lowest operating costs of any single aisle aircraft.

Uniquely, the A320 Family offers a containerized cargo system, which is compatible with the world wide standard wide-body system.

Source: Press Release (Airbus)