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New aircraft marks 'major step change for fleet efficiency', says easyJet

EasyJet has taken delivery of an aircraft which it believes will play a major role in reducing its fuel costs and environmental footprint.

The carrier received its first Airbus A320neo following a ceremony at the manufacturer's headquarters in Toulouse, France.

The Luton-based firm said the aircraft would deliver a 15% increase in fuel efficiency, cut CO2 emissions by 15% and reduce noise during take-off and landing by 50%, compared with the current generation A320s.

EasyJet chief executive Dame Carolyn McCall described the aircraft as "a major step change for our fleet efficiency".

She said: " We have to be as lean as we can possibly be and this helps us be very lean."

The airline announced large half-year losses in May after being stung by the collapse in the value of the Brexit-hit pound and the later timing of Easter.

It reported a £236 million pre-tax loss in the six months to March 31, which compares with an £18 million loss in the same period last year.

EasyJet has o rdered 100 A320neos powered by CFM LEAP-1A engines.

The aircraft collected by easyJet in Toulouse was its 300th from Airbus.

It will be based at Luton Airport and begin operating commercial flights to Amsterdam, Madrid and Edinburgh from Friday.

Dame Carolyn said: " It makes us more cost efficient. That's only a good thing for a low-cost operating model.

"It means we can continue to do low fares and be very competitive."

The airline's "momentum" on reducing its cost per seat was "continuing at pace", Dame Carolyn said.

Aviation analyst Alex Macheras said: "The focus is the engines, which are providing unbeatable efficiency for an airliner in this class.

"It's great to see a British aircraft taking advantage of these new aircraft options and not waiting a few years."

Dame Carolyn described the decrease in noise with the A320neo as "really important" because of easyJet's focus on using primary airports which are often near built-up areas.

"That noise reduction becomes incredibly relevant at Gatwick, Schiphol (Amsterdam), Orly (Paris) and many others," she explained.

EasyJet hopes the aircraft will help it meet a new target to reduce carbon emissions per passenger kilometre to 72 grams by 2022, which represents a 10% improvement on existing performance.

The list price of the A320neo is 108 million US dollars (£85 million) although easyJet said it negotiated "a very substantial discount".

The airline has also ordered 30 of the larger A321neo, with the aim of increasing capacity at airports where slots are constrained.

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