Air France on Wednesday confirmed an order for 25 of Airbus's next-generation A350 planes in a deal worth $7.2 billion (5.4 billion euros) at catalogue prices.
The planes will come into service in 2017, Alexandre de Juniac, head of the French carrier, told reporters at the Paris Air Show.
Speaking after the multi-billion deal was announced Airbus head Fabrice Bregier promised on Wednesday that more orders for its next-generation A350 plane would come "before the end of the day".
Airbus will enter a test flying period it hopes will last less than 18 months, and plans to deliver its first A350 at the end of next year.
The A350 will complete Airbus's long-haul stable, which includes the A380 super jumbo, and will gradually replace the older A330, a plane that has generated almost half of the firm's revenues in recent years, Cunningham said.
The extensive use of carbon-based composites means the new plane will be lighter and deliver fuel economy – much like its rival, Boeing's 787 Dreamliner.
Despite dethroning Boeing in the medium-hall segment, Airbus still needs to catch up with its rival in the long-range market, where the US firm dominates with its 777 and Dreamliner, despite the latter's recent technical problems.
Initially meant as a direct competitor to the Dreamliner, Airbus has now positioned the A350 between Boeing's popular 777 and the new 787, hoping to eat away at both planes' markets.