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Qatar Airways may place deal worth US$2b

QATAR Airways Co may order around 20 single-aisle Airbus SAS planes worth roughly US$2 billion at the Paris Air Show, doubling its medium-haul fleet as it prepares to fend off low-cost competition, industry sources said yesterday.

Such a deal would stand out from what is expected to be a dearth of major orders at the show as the airline industry weathers an economic crisis and concerns over travel demand.

Qatar Airways last year unveiled a deal to buy up to six Airbus A321 planes and said it was ready to set up a budget airline to fend off any attack by a rival airline in its home market.

The airline said last summer it was in negotiations with Airbus to buy further A320-family aircraft.

It already operates 19 aircraft from the Airbus A320 family of single-aisle planes, which includes the A321.

Airbus said it would make a customer announcement at the air show but declined further comment.

Two aviation industry sources, asking not to be identified, said Qatar Airways could announce a purchase of around 20 aircraft.

A third, however, said there was speculation Qatar Airways, which has called for planes to be delivered faster as it shrugs off the recession hammering many other carriers, could place a large order for both single-aisle and long-haul aircraft.

Ahead of the air show, Qatar Airways had been expected to provide one of the few new orders at the event but there were doubts over whether the company needed to add to the 114 wide-body jets it had already ordered from Airbus and Boeing.


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