Newest Airbus jet takes first flight amid high demand for A320neo's fuel economy

Airbus has sent its latest jet up for its first flight above the skies of southern France, amid high demand for the single-aisle A320neo and its promised fuel economy.

The planemaker has already taken more than 3,000 orders for the A320neo, a revamped version of its best-selling A320 range of jets.

The A320neo — or "new engine option" — incorporates an engine that uses less fuel and sharklet wing tips that help reduce fuel needs. A320s are mid-range jets that generally seat up to 180 passengers.

The plane took off and landed safely in a test flight Thursday in Toulouse.

Airbus on Wednesday raised its long-term forecast for new airplane demand, predicting that airlines will need 31,400 new aircraft over the next 20 years — with most being single-aisle.