Separately, the airline also signed an agreement to lease four additional CFM56-5B-powered A320/A321 aircraft. The eight purchased and leased aircraft are scheduled for delivery between late 2000 and 2002.

The CFM56-5B is produced by CFM International (CFM), a 50/50 joint company between Snecma of France and General Electric of the United States. CFM is the world's leading supplier of commercial aircraft engines, garnering 55 percent of all new orders for aircraft carrying 100 passengers or more placed over the last six years.

Air 2000, with headquarters at London Gatwick Airport in the United Kingdom, is a charter airline and a subsidiary of First Choice Holidays PLC. The airline currently operates five A321s powered by the 33,000 pound thrust CFM56-5B3 engine. The eight new aircraft are part of the airline's plans to expand its operations. Air 2000 based its selection on the CFM56-5B's superior reliability and lower operating costs.

"We very much appreciate this new order and the continued confidence Air 2000 has placed in our product," said Michel Buret, CFM sales director. "This order also confirms that the CFM56 engine is the preferred choice of almost all charter airlines in the United Kingdom''.

The CFM56-5 has been selected to power 60 percent of the A320 family aircraft ordered to date. One of the primary factors behind the CFM56-5's broad-based market acceptance has been its simple, rugged architecture, which gives it the highest reliability, durability, and repairability in its class. In addition, CFM continually invests in technology enhancements that make the engines even better. The CFM56-5-powered A320 fleet currently in service has logged nearly 17 million engine flight hours and 11 million cycles.