Airbus Industrie launches 130-seat jet

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AIRBUS Industrie, in which Britain has a 20 per cent stake, yesterday gambled on a decisive recovery in airline demand within three years by launching its latest jet, the 130-seat A319.

The aircraft, which will cost dollars 275m (pounds 185m) to develop and will enter service in spring 1996, completes the smaller range of Airbus jets and will compete with the smallest version of the Boeing 737. Airbus has only one launch customer for the A319 - the Californian aircraft leasing group ILFC, which is buying six aircraft. But it says that the market could eventually reach 400 jets.

The A320, A321 and A319 give Airbus a family of smaller jets from 130 to 186 seats. The consortium has 39 customers for the A320 family and believes its decision to launch the new derivative will encourage some of those airlines to make more orders.