Leading leisure travel group, Thomas Cook, signed a binding contract with Airbus on Tuesday for 12 new A321 aircrafts as part of its single aisle fleet harmonization and renewal plan.

Scheduled to be delivered from 2014, the new agreement also lays down options for further purchase of A320 family aircraft from 2015.

In selecting the Airbus A320 family for our fleet modernization, we have identified significant operational savings, particularly from maintenance and improved fuel efficiency, stated a Thomas Cook Group spokesman.

The aircrafts will be fitted with the latest fuel saving wing-tip devices, known as Sharklets. These are large wing-tip devices that will enhance the eco-efficiency and payload-range performance of the A320 Family.

The A321 with Sharklets offers a leap in operational and environmental performance alongside the widest, most comfortable cabin in its market, said John Leahy, Airbus Chief Operating Officer, Customers in a recent statement.

It is estimated that the Sharklets will result in at least 3.5 percent reduced fuel burn over longer sectors, corresponding to an annual reduction of around 700 metric tons of carbon dioxide per aircraft.

The aircrafts will be powered by CFM56-5B engines produced by CFM International, a joint venture by Snecma (Safran group) and GE. The Group will remain a heavy user of operating leases and it is anticipated that the directly purchased aircraft will be financed through sale and leaseback agreements with third party lessors.