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Belfast wing factory to benefit from latest aircraft order

Air France has placed an order for 60 Airbus jets, the wings of which are made in Northern Ireland

AIR France has placed an order for 60 Airbus jets, the wings of which are made in Belfast.

The French flag carrier has confirmed it has agreed to purchase 60 A220-300 aircraft as it takes steps to modernise its fleet.

In addition to the firm order worth $5.5bn (£4.5bn) at 2018 list prices, the deal also includes the option for an additional 30 planes and acquisition rights for another 30.

Previously known as the Bombardier C Series, before Airbus acquired a majority stake in the Canadian planemaker, around 1,000 staff in the north work on the A220 project.

Benjamin Smith, CEO of the Air France-KLM Group holding company believes the new deal will increase efficiency on the airline's services.

“The acquisition of these brand new A220-300s aligns perfectly with Air France–KLM's overall fleet modernisation and harmonisation strategy," he said.

“This aircraft demonstrates optimum operational and economic efficiency and enables us to further improve our environment footprint thanks to the A220's low fuel consumption and reduced emissions. It is also perfectly adapted to our domestic and European network and will enable Air France to operate more efficiently on its short and medium-haul routes.”

Airbus chief executive officer, Guillaume Faury added:

“It is an honour for Airbus that Air France, a long-standing valued customer, has endorsed our latest family member, the A220, for its fleet renewal plans.

“We are committed to supporting Air France with our A220 by bringing the latest technologies, efficiency levels, and environment benefits. We are delighted to embark on this partnership and we are looking forward to seeing the A220 flying in the Air France colours.”

The Air France order is the latest deal agreed for the A220 aircraft. In June, Los Angeles-based Air Lease Corporation (ALC) placed an order for 50 A220-300s, while in January it was announced that start-up US airline Moxy has ordered 60 of the planes. In the same month Delta Airlines ordered an additional 15 A220s on top of the initial 75 agreed in a £3.8bn deal struck in April 2016.

The A220, described as the only aircraft purpose built for the 100-150 seat market, had an order of 551 aircraft at the end of the last month, while the manufacturer is confident it can deliver at least 7,000 over the next 20 years.

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