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Oh My, Dubai! Qatar Airways Orders 30 Dreamliners

Airline Also Has Most Firm Orders For A350 XWB

Boeing Company, won a $6.1 billion order for 30 of its 787 Dreamliner aircraft and five freighter 777s from Qatar Airways... who is also the largest customer for competitor Airbus SAS's A350 XWB.

Qatar Airways also took an option to buy 30 more 787s, the carrier said Monday in a statement distributed at the Dubai Air Show, according to Bloomberg. Qatar Airways has 80 A350s on firm order.

Boeing had a total of 710 orders valued at about $120 billion for the 787 Dreamliner as of mid-October, the Chicago-based company's best sales effort. The Qatar Airways order was previously included in a list Boeing published in July of 787 customers that didn't disclose the number of planes.

Boeing, which competes with Airbus for the title of top jetliner manufacturer, said October 10 the 787's first delivery will be put off by six months to November 2008 because of parts shortages and assembly delays, as reported in ANN.

Doha-based Qatar Airways is the second airline in the Middle East to order the Dreamliner, after Royal Jordanian -- which said in May it would buy two of the aircraft. The 787 costs $158.3 million on average, compared with a list price of $229 million for the 250- to 350-seat Airbus A350.

Arab airlines are expected to increase their combined fleet by almost two-thirds to 900 aircraft by 2015 from 550 planes in 2006, according to the Arab Carriers Organization. Mixing competing models, as Qatar is doing, can help airlines win lower purchase prices for planes. Singapore Airlines Ltd. also has contracts to buy both 787s and A350s.

Governments in the region encourage hubs for tourism and transit flights between Europe, Asia and Africa.

Qatar Airways has big plans to replace older models and buy newer aircraft for a route expansion. The airline wants to double its fleet to more than 110 aircraft by 2015 and may need as many as 150 jets n 2015 to expand to 79 destinations, according to Bloomberg.

"They have for a long time had an aggressive growth pattern in this order and the Dreamliners and A350 order show that they have no intention of slowing up," Richard Pinkham, with the Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation in Singapore.

"It makes them even bigger, putting them not so very far behind Emirates," Pinkham added. "They will continue to try to work hand in hand with the Qatar government to build up Doha as a leisure and business destination while also playing a major role in the intercontinental transfer market."

Qatar Airways also said Monday it is evaluating planes in the 80- to 100-seat range... indicating Airbus and Boeing are not on top of the list of manufacturers in that contest, in favor of regional aircraft manufacturers like Bombardier and Embraer.

The carrier plans to be the first airline in the world to use "gas to liquid" fuel in planes rather than traditional jet fuel, Qatar CEO Akbar al-Baker told Bloomberg.

FMI: www.qatarairways.com, www.boeing.com, www.airbus.com/en/

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