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Qatar Airways and Airbus make up with $6.5b deal

written by australianaviation.com.au | November 16, 2011

Akbar Al Baker, Qatar Airways CEO, with John Leahy, Airbus COO - customers.

Qatar Airways has announced an order for 50 Airbus A320neos and five A380s after a rollercoaster day at the Dubai Airshow.

The announcement came hours after Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker said the deal had fallen through, reportedly over a dispute over who would be the first airline to take delivery of the next generation neo.

“Every deal sometimes gets stuck, especially when the lawyers throw the spanner in the works,” Al Baker said after the deal had been put back on track, Reuters reported.

The deal, valued at US$6.5 billion, includes options for 30 A320neos on top of the 50 firm orders. It also sees Qatar double its fleet of A380 superjumbo jets from five to 10, with options for three more.

The single aisle A320neo, an update of the popular Airbus A320, features new engines and drag-reducing wingtip “sharklets” that Airbus says will substantially improve fuel efficiency. The jet is scheduled to begin delivery in 2015.

Despite the public drama, the order is an important win for Airbus after rival Boeing dominated the opening days of the air show by scoring a record $18 billion order from Emirates Airlines for 50 777-300ERs.

Qatar Airways also announced a smaller deal with Boeing on Tuesday for a pair of 777 Freighters valued at $560 million.


Al Baker has at times been outspoken in his criticism of both Boeing and Airbus, and as he announced the deal with the European planemaker he took a swipe at Airbus’s long-delayed A350 program. Airbus announced a new round of delays for the plane last week, and its design has also drawn criticism from Emirates.

“I will wait and see what they come up with,” Al Baker said, according to Reuters. “Either they prove us wrong about what we feel about their airplane or we prove them wrong about what they feel about it.”

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