The agreement is for 50 of Airbus’ new generation A320neo (new engine option) airplanes with a further 30 on option, together with five additional A380s super jumbos and three on option.
The A320neo aircraft are designed to operate quieter with lower operating costs, fly further and carry heavier payloads with less emissions than current single aisle aircraft.
The five new A380s will double the number of the airline’s super jumbos already in the delivery pipeline, taking firm orders up to 10 aircraft. Deliveries are due to begin in 2013.
The announcement was made at a press conference during the Dubai Air Show by Qatar Airways Chief Executive Officer Akbar Al Baker.
“The A320neo promises to be a great aircraft which is why we have chosen it to form the backbone of our future single aisle expansion,” he said, addressing the packed media briefing.
“Together with our previous orders for the A350 extra wide body aircraft and new orders for additional A380s, we are continuing to invest in an integrated Family of the world’s most modern and fuel efficient aircraft.”
The A320neo single aisle jet will be fitted with engines, which Airbus estimates will offer 15 per cent fuel savings, and emit 3,600 tonnes less carbon dioxide per aircraft every year.
The A320neo will belong to the A320 Family of aircraft, of which Qatar Airways currently operates 38 in its fleet with a further nine pending delivery. Of the 50 firm A320neo aircraft on order, 30 are A320s, 14 are A321s and six are A319s.
“Qatar Airways supported the development of the Airbus A320neo very early on. It is with great pride that we are announcing this large order today, including additional Airbus A380s. We have built up a strong relationship with our friends at Qatar Airways over the years, and today this partnership is stronger than ever,” said Airbus Chief Operating Officer (Customers) John Leahy.
Recently named Airline of the Year 2011 by global industry audit Skytrax, Qatar Airways is one of the fastest growing airlines in the world, operating a modern fleet of 102 Airbus and Boeing aircraft to 109 key business and leisure destinations across Europe, Middle East, Africa, Asia Pacific, North America and South America.
The airline’s Airbus fleet is made up of 74 aircraft comprising A340s, A330s, A300 freighters and A320 Family aircraft. Aside from the A380s and A320 Family aircraft pending delivery, Qatar Airways is the world’s largest customer of 80 of the new generation A350s.
Qatar Airways’ aggressive 2011 expansion programme has so far seen the launch of flights to 14 destinations – Bucharest (Romania), Budapest (Hungary), Brussels (Belgium), Stuttgart (Germany), Aleppo (Syria), Shiraz (Iran), Venice (Italy), Montreal (Canada), Medina (Saudi Arabia), Kolkata (India), Sofia (Bulgaria), Oslo (Norway), Benghazi (Libya) and Entebbe (Uganda).
The south western Chinese city of Chongqing becomes Qatar Airways’ final new route of 2011 – its fifth gateway in China from November 28. On February 1, Qatar Airways begins scheduled flights to Baku and Tbilisi, the capital cities of Azerbaijan and Georgia respectively.
By 2013, Qatar Airways plans to serve over 120 destinations worldwide with a fleet of more than 120 aircraft.
Qatar Airways has orders worth over US$ 40 billion for more than 200 aircraft, including Boeing 787s, 777s, Airbus A350s, A380s, A320 Family of aircraft and Bombardier corporate jets. The rapid expansion of Qatar Airways prompted the State of Qatar to embark on one of its biggest projects – the construction of a brand new international airport in Doha, which is scheduled to open in 2012.