Qatar Airways orders six Boeing 777 jets for $1.7 bn

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US aerospace giant Boeing kicked off the Paris International Airshow on Monday with an order worth $1.7 billion (1.19 billion euros) for six long-haul 777-300 ER airliners from Qatar Airways.

By industry standards the order was modest, but the American firm hopes that it will be the first in a spate of fresh orders during its week in France, home turf of its European arch-rival Airbus.

"We are extremely pleased to be playing a role in the growth and success of Qatar Airways," said Jim Albaugh, chairman and chief executive of Boeing's commercial aircraft division.

"And we are grateful for the confidence and trust that Qatar Airways continues to place in Boeing -- and in the 777."

"We are expanding our international network rapidly and adding new routes and destinations that will extend Qatar Airways' reach," said Akbar Al Baker, chief executive of Qatar Airways.

"We currently have 25 Boeing 777s in our fleet and its payload and range capability, reliability and economics have made this aircraft the backbone of our long-haul fleet."

The 777-300 ER is the "extended range" version of Boeing's 777 long-haul jet, and will allow Qatar Airways to serve more destinations with non-stop direct flights, Baker explained.

Qatar Airways, the national carrier of energy-rich Qatar, has a fleet of 97 aircraft and major ambitions to be a global player.

Prior to the announcement, it had orders for 182 planes, including options. These include 80 Airbus A350s, 60 Boeing 787 Dreamliners, 29 Boeing 777s, eight Airbus A321 and five Airbus 380-800 superjumbos.

© 2011 AFP

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