LEDBURY, ENGLAND, December 4, 2001 -- European Minardi F1 chief, Paul Stoddart, has once again bucked so-called "trends" by announcing that his European Aviation company has purchased five Boeing 747-200 aircraft from British Airways and will shortly begin operating them commercially.

This signals the beginning of a new chapter for European Aviation Air Charter (EAAC), as it marks the first time the successful, Bournemouth-based company has been involved in flying "wide-body" aircraft. Aside from the newly acquired Boeing "Jumbos" being used for the mainstream charter activities that form the core of EAAC's business, at least one European Aviation 747 will fly to each of the "long-haul" rounds of the 2002 FIA Formula One World Championship. This will provide transport for European Minardi staff, as well for personnel from other Grand Prix teams interested in flight timings specifically geared to the demanding schedule of a Formula One weekend.

"We are very pleased to have concluded this deal with British Airways, a company with whom European Aviation has a longstanding commercial relationship," comments Paul Stoddart. "We look forward to our first experience of 'wide-body' flying and the new markets this opens up for the company. In addition, it will permit us to extend our Formula One flights to all long-haul events in 2002, allowing not only European Minardi staff, but also personnel from other Grand Prix teams to experience the legendary service, comfort and convenience for which European Aviation has become known and of which the company is justly proud.

"We realise that some people may question the wisdom of making a commercial commitment of this type at a time when there is a great deal of nervousness surrounding the aviation business," he continued, "but we have never followed so-called 'trends', preferring instead to do our own evaluation and strike deals when we believe it right for the European Aviation group of companies. Notwithstanding the dreadful events of September 11, we firmly believe the global aviation business has a healthy future in the longer term, simply because people will continue to have a requirement to travel.

"Furthermore, our company's collective experience has taught us how to run a very efficient airline that boasts some of the lowest operating costs in Europe. We will now apply this knowledge to operating the European Aviation 747 fleet and, as a result, I am certain this will turn out to be a highly successful acquisition."