updated 12/13/2005 10:29:26 AM ET 2005-12-13T15:29:26

United Parcel Service Inc. signed a binding order for 10 Airbus A380 superjumbos, the European aircraft maker said Tuesday.

The contract firms up a nonbinding commitment announced early this year by Atlanta-based UPS and Airbus, a unit of European Aeronautic Defence and Space Co.

Financial terms were not disclosed for the deal, worth about $2.9 billion at list prices.

UPS will take delivery of its first A380 sometime between 2009 and 2012 and has not yet decided between the Rolls-Royce Trent 900 engine and the Engine Alliance GP 7000.

The A380 freighter, due to enter service in 2008, will carry a freight load of 330,000 pounds on three decks, with a cargo volume capacity of 40,000 cubic feet and a range of 5,600 nautical miles.

The new Airbus planes will be used mainly on UPS’s international routes between the United States and Asia and Europe, spokesman Mark Giuffre said. The package delivery company, which already has 47 Airbus A300 freighters in its fleet, had said it plans to fly the A380 to congested airports in China and other Asian countries.

UPS had typically been using the MD11 for its long-range routes; the Airbus can hold 2 1/2 times the volume of the MD11, Giuffre said.

The company is building a second air freight facility in Louisville, Ky., adjacent to its current facility there, that will be used to support expanded international air freight services, Giuffre said. It is scheduled to open in June or July 2006.

Airbus currently has 159 firm A380 orders, including 27 for the freighter version, from a total of 16 customers.

Copyright 2005 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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