March 16, 2007

Qatar Airways Confirms Talks With Airbus

Qatar Airways Confirms It's in Talks With Airbus About Purchasing 80 A350 Wide-Body Jets

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) -- Qatar Airways on Thursday confirmed it is in talks with Airbus on a purchase of 80 A350 wide-body jets.

The fast-expanding airline said it is interested in three variants of the European-made aircraft and hoped to confirm new orders soon, according to an e-mailed statement.

Qatar Airways, which operates a fleet of 53-all Airbus aircraft, announced two years ago that it planned to buy 60 A350s, but is now considering an additional 20 aircraft, spokeswoman Sigrid Rath said. The A350s would fly on the carrier's medium- and long-haul routes.

A major sale of the A350 would be a boost at a difficult time for Airbus. It has been beset by management and financial crises, including a two-year delay to its double-decker A380 superjumbo that wiped more than euro5 billion ($6.6 billion) off profit forecasts.

Airbus is seeking to recoup those losses by cutting 10,000 jobs and spinning off or closing six of its European manufacturing plants.

The A350 is a mid-sized jet designed to rival Boeing's fuel-efficient 787.

The airline's negotiations were reported earlier by the Financial Times, which quoted chief executive Akbar Al Baker as saying that Qatar Airways was "close" to signing a letter of intent with the European airspace consortium. Al Baker said a purchase contract could be signed by midyear.

In Toulouse, in southwest France, Airbus spokeswoman Laetitia Stauff said Thursday that she could not confirm a Qatar order.

The Financial Times reported that Qatar Airways is expected to complete an order for 80 aircraft, with the formal signing likely at the Paris airshow in June.

By Jim Krane, Associated Press Writer
Copyright © 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. Via Yahoo! Finance

No comments: