PARIS AIR SHOW: Qatar Airways to introduce new cabin with latest A320 order

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Qatar Airways has placed what could be one of the biggest orders at the show with a $1.9 billion deal for 24 Airbus A320 family aircraft, for delivery from later this year.

Chief executive Akbar Al Baker says the airline has ordered 20 A320s and four A321s, all of which will be powered by International Aero Engines V2500 engines like its existing Airbus narrowbody fleet.

The new aircraft will have two class configurations and will be used to launch a new interior, says Al Baker.

The airline is installing Airbus's new lighter, restyled A320 family cabin and is launch customer for Recaro's latest business and economy seats. The economy cabin will be equipped with Thales' in-seat audio/video on-demand in-flight entertainment system. In-flight mobile phone text and email services will also be offered (but not voice calls), using the OnAir system. The aircraft will feature class 2 electronic flight bags in the cockpit.

The first two aircraft - A320s- will arrive late this year and deliveries will continue until 2012. The A321s were originally announced at the 2008 Farnborough air show and Al Baker explains the short timeframe between order and first deliveries by saying that "the slot was booked last year". He adds that "we are actually trying to speed up the deliveries but Airbus is unable to give us earlier slots".