Max Kingsley-Jones/LONDON

Qatar Airways has selected the Airbus A320 over the rival Next Generation Boeing 737 for its new short-haul fleet, and concluded a deal with Airbus for up to 11 aircraft. The Gulf airline is now turning its attention to the replacement of its A300s.

The airline operates four ageing Boeing 727-200Adv on short-haul routes from its base in Doha, which are being remarketed by Aircraft Leasing and Management and will leave the fleet early next year. The 727s will be replaced by four A320s on interim five year leases from Singapore Aircraft Leasing Enterprise, before the delivery of the six firmly ordered A320s and five options between 2001 and 2005. The ordered aircraft will be powered by the International Aero Engines V2500-A5.

Although the switch to A320s will give Qatar an all-Airbus fleet - three A300-600Rs are also operated - it is understood that the competition with Boeing for the order went down to the wire. The airline is now focusing attention on the replacement of the three A300s which are operated on long-haul services, with the A330-200 and Boeing 767-400 in contention. The A300s, which are leased from Ansett Worldwide Aviation Services, have only been in service with Qatar for about one year and are unlikely to be replaced in the immediate future.

Source: Flight International