Lao Airlines has inked a deal for two Airbus A320 aircraft, making them the first passenger jets to join their fleet.

The aircraft, which will be powered by CFM International CFM56 engines, will be operated by Laos' national carrier on routes linking the capital Vientiane to Southeast Asian destinations such as Bangkok and Singapore, said Airbus.

Both A320s were originally meant for Libyan carrier Afriqiyah Airways, said industry sources. The deal, however, was cancelled due to the civil war in the country. Both Airbus and Lao Airlines declined to comment on the original destination of the aircraft.

The A320s will have a two class layout, with 126 passengers in the economy class cabin and 16 in business class. They will be delivered in the fourth quarter of 2011, with Lao due to start a Vientiane-Singapore service on 1 November.

"The A320 will see Lao Airlines introduce a new level of premium service as we expand our international route network," said Somphone Douangdara, president of Lao Airlines, in a statement.

"In addition to the highest standards of in-flight comfort, Lao Airlines will also benefit from the extremely low operating costs offered by these modern, fuel-efficient aircraft."

Lao Airlines operates four ATR 72-500s, and has also inked an agreement to buy two Commercial Aircraft Corp of China (Comac) ARJ21-700 regional jets. It is not clear, however, when the aircraft will be delivered.

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news