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Airbus names first customer of A330 regional jet

Reporting by Phil LeBeau, writing by Dhara Ranasinghe
Airbus: We're delighted with Saudi deal

Saudi Arabia is the first customer of Airbus's A330 regional medium-haul passenger jet, the European planemaker announced at the Paris Air Show on Monday.

"We are very pleased about this order. We are talking about 20 A330s in a regional version. This is something we promoted about 18 months ago, starting with China, and is dedicated to short regional missions with high-density traffic," Airbus CEO Fabrice Bregier told CNBC on the side lines of the show.

"You know that in Saudi there is a huge requirement for additional flights. This is this first application and we are delighted."

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In addition to the Middle East, there is also likely to be strong demand for the A330 from Southeast Asia, Bregier said.

"One big constraint for transportation is the slots constraint at an airport level; so an A330 is very reliable and can transport twice the number of passengers. This is extremely powerful to maintain the growth of traffic without extending the size of the airport," he said.

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The A330 aircraft is expected to help reduce airport congestion since it can carry more passengers without a need to increase the number of flights.

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Asked about the outlook for the Airbus A380, which is struggling for sales, Bregier said there was support for the superjumbo from larger airlines.

"It's clear that companies that are facing a difficult situation can't embark on the A380, but we are supported by big airlines. The biggest of them for long haul is Emirates and Emirates want us to continue and invest in a future version," he added.