Lao Airlines, the national carrier of the Lao People's Democratic Republic, launched a new era in its history today, taking delivery of the first of two new CFM56-5B-powered Airbus A320 aircraft. The airline plans to use the new aircraft primarily on international services to Singapore, Bangkok, Hanoi, and Hong Kong.
"With the arrival of the A320, we are moving into a new phase of our development," said Dr. Somphone Douangdara, president of Lao Airlines. "We can now offer our passengers faster, more comfortable option with the inherent reliability that comes from operating the CFM56 product line."
"We are honored to welcome Lao Airlines to the CFM family of customers," said Jean-Paul Ebanga, president and CEO of CFM International. "It is highly gratifying when an airline places such trust in your products and we intend to continue to earn that trust every day of what we hope will be a very long relationship between our two companies."
Lao Airlines was founded in 1976 and was formed through the merger of Royal Air Lao and Lao Air Lines. The airline began operations with a mix of Western aircraft and helicopters but began upgrading to new turboprop aircraft in the mid-to-late 1990s to service its daily flight to China, Vietnam, Thailand and Cambodia. Today the Lao Airlines network extends to six international destinations and six locations within the Lao PDR. New routes are planned for the future, including within the CLMV economic zone of Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar and Vietnam, China as well as to Hong Kong and Singapore.
The high reliability, long on-wing life, and low maintenance costs of the CFM56-5B engine make it extremely popular with major airlines, low-cost carriers, and leasing companies worldwide. By selecting the CFM56-5B, Lao Airlines is taking significant steps in reducing its operating costs. Over the engine's life cycle, the current engine configuration will provide the airline better specific fuel consumption, which translates to better fuel burn and, as a result, lower CO2 emissions. The engine also meets the new International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) Committee of Aviation Environmental Protection standards (CAEP /6) that took effect in early 2008.
CFM56-5B engines are a product of CFM International, a 50/50 joint venture between Snecma (Safran group) and GE. CFM, the world's leading supplier of commercial aircraft engines, has delivered nearly 23,000 engines to date and the fleet has achieved more than 550 million flight hours as the most reliable engines in the air.