Qatar Airways may buy more Airbus A380 superjumbos

AFP , Wednesday 24 Nov 2010

The oil-rich Gulf state continues to expand its Qatar Airways fleet

Gulf flag-carrier Qatar Airways is considering ordering more A380 superjumbos from European planemaker Airbus, the airline's Chief Executive Akbar Al Baker said Thursday.

"We have five A380s on order. Definitely, we will consider increasing this order," he told a news conference in Paris, in a welcome bit of good news for the manufacturer after recent engine problems with its twin-deck flagship.

Al Baker did not say how many more A380s, which are built at Airbus's main plant in the southern French city of Toulouse and sell for around 340 million dollars apiece, depending on the equipment installed.

Qatar Airways is one of the world's fastest growing airlines, expanding its fleet from four to 94 aircraft in 13 years, and with orders for 200 more from Airbus and its US rival Boeing worth 40 billion dollars (30 billion euros).

It is also a key early customer for the A380, the world's largest passenger jet and the key to Airbus' future.

The first of its five A380s is scheduled for delivery in 2012, by which time Qatar's capital Doha will have a new airport capable of handling the massive jet, which can carry more than 800 passengers.

Three weeks ago, an A380 operated by Australia's Qantas was forced to make an emergency landing after one of its four Rolls-Royce jet engines exploded.

Qantas and Singapore Airlines grounded their fleets for modifications but the Australian airline now says that it has resolved problems with the A380's Trent 900 engines and they will return to the sky on Saturday.

The blast dented the reputation of the A380 as Airbus warned that the incident might delay planned deliveries if Rolls-Royce engine supplies were to be disrupted as a result.

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