Qatar Airways signed a firm contract for 24 A320 family aircraft valued at nearly $2 billion, including the firming of four A321 options. The order is expected to one of the largest placed at this week´s Paris Air Show. QR currently operates 19 A320 family aircraft and is the Middle East´s largest operator of the type.
The new aircraft will be deployed to expand and enhance regional routes, CEO Akbar Al Baker said. He rejected speculation that QR had placed the order to fill a hole created by other airlines´ cancellations. "We want the aircraft sooner but Airbus cannot deliver," he said.
He also scoffed at suggestions that the airline has ordered too many planes. "We are very clever in shifting capacity to changing market conditions," he said. "We are taking one aircraft a month and we need them. Our forward bookings are strong and we made a profit in April and May." QR has said its fleet of 68 aircraft will expand to more than 110 by 2013. Entering the air show, it had firm orders for more than 200 valued at more than $40 billion.
Al Baker added that the airline had no plans to defer its A380 deliveries and is looking forward to receiving its first in 2012