Airbus set an all-time company record in 2009 with 498 aircraft deliveries, which included: its handover of the 4,000th A320 Family jetliner – an A319 for Brazilian flag carrier TAM – from the final assembly line in Hamburg, Germany; delivery of the 500th A321 aircraft, received by Air France; and the 30th A380, provided to Emirates.
Air France became the initial European carrier to receive an A380, taking delivery on 30 October 2009 – inaugurating the first commercial flights in November between Europe and the United States with Airbus’ 21st century flagship jetliner.
Lufthansa joined the growing list of A380 airlines with the 19 May 2010 delivery of its no. 1 aircraft – which joined the operator’s expansive Airbus fleet of jetliners ranging from single-aisle A319s, A320s and A321s to widebody A300s, A330s and A340s.
Airbus handed over its 6,000th aircraft in January 2010, and in doing so underscored the company’s continued role as a leading provider of highly efficient jetliners to customers worldwide. This historic aircraft was an A380 for Emirates, which has flown Airbus-built airliners from its creation in 1985. “It took 19 years for Airbus to produce its first 1,000 aircraft, and just two years for the latest 1,000,” said President and CEO Tom Enders at the milestone delivery ceremony in Hamburg. “Our strong order backlog and the continued delivery rates will help us on our way to reaching the 7,000th.”
On 18 May 2009, Airbus’ Tianjin facility marked a milestone of its own when the first jetliner built on this Chinese final assembly line – an A320 – completed its maiden flight, taking off from Tianjin International Airport for a 4 hr. 14 min. airborne evaluation. This same A320 was delivered on 23 June 2009 to Dragon Aviation Leasing for operation by Chengu-based carrier Sichuan Airlines, marking the first customer handover of an Airbus jetliner produced outside Europe.
Key agreements signed during the 2009-2010 time period included the largest order in civil aviation history (by U.S. dollar value): 32 additional A380s for Emirates at a value of more than $15.3 billion, announced during the ILA Berlin Air Show in June 2010; and the 500th order for Airbus’ new-generation A350 XWB, booked by Ethiopian Airlines at the November 2009 Dubai Airshow.