Airline signs orders for Global Express business jets and confirms Airbus commitments

Qatar Airways had a busy Dubai air show, signing orders for Bombardier Global Express business jets along with confirmation of earlier commitments for Airbus A340-600s and A380s. The airline's chief executive Akbar Al Baker also revealed an acceleration of the expansion plan for the country's new international airport at Doha.

The airline's deal for two Global Expresses, plus two options, marks an expansion of its corporate/business charter business, which it serves with two Airbus A319CJs. The aircraft, which will be equipped with 13-seat, three-compartment layouts, will be operated by Qatar Airways' Amiri Flight division.

As well as serving government needs, Qatar Airways says the Global Expresses will be used for regional and intercontinental VIP on-demand travel. Deliveries of the two firmly ordered aircraft are due in mid- and late 2004, respectively.

Meanwhile, the confirmation of the airline's two-year-old A380 commitment will see the airline introducing two firmly ordered aircraft in early 2009. It has taken options on two additional aircraft in a deal worth $1.2 billion at list prices. The airline says it is "in no rush" to make an engine selection. A decision is not expected until 2007, which will be after both the Rolls-Royce Trent 900 and General Electric/Pratt & Whitney Engine Alliance GP7200 have entered service on the aircraft.

The deal for two A340-600 high- gross-weight aircraft, plus eight options, which was announced at the Paris air show in June, was also confirmed. Qatar will be the launch operator of the new extended-range version of the Trent 500-powered aircraft, in June 2006.

"We will configure the A380s with a spacious 460-seat layout, and the entire upper deck will be dedicated to first and business class passengers," says Al Baker. This seating configuration is almost 100 fewer than the standard 555-seat three-class layout.

Al Baker says the master plan for Doha International Airport has been finalised, and tenders for construction worth $2.5 billion are about to be awarded (Flight Inter-national, 18-24 November). This will cover phase 1, due to open in late 2008 with a capacity of 12 million passengers annually. Al Baker says the 50 million passenger phase 3 will now become operational in 2015 - 10 years early.

Source: Flight International