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Mon 28 Aug 2006 04:00 AM

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Qatar Airways delays $4.9 billion order

Boeing suffered a serious blow when the fate of its much-vaunted $4.9 billion Qatar Airways order for 20 777s became uncertain. Last month

the Gulf carrier indefinitely delayed the final deal and cancelled a scheduled news conference.

Boeing had published a press release on the first day of Farnborough Airshow, held in the UK, on its website confirming the order, but it was later removed.

Qatar Airways was expected to take delivery of the mix of 777-300ERs and 777-200LRs in 2007. The airline announced tentative plans to buy the planes last September.

Lee D. Monson, senior vice-president for Boeing Middle East, said the order had been booked for several weeks to an unidentified customer, and that the order books would not be altered. However, Qatar Airways said no contract had been signed with Boeing and that it is still in negotiations with both manufacturers.

“It’s not over yet,” said Airbus’s chief commercial officer, John Leahy, adding that he was under the impression Qatar Airways was looking to order Airbus A330 and A340 aircraft.

Jim Schlueter, vice-president for Boeing Commercial Airplanes Communications, said he was not worried about the order. “We have a long term plan.”

He declined to comment on Qatar Airways delaying and its interest with Airbus.

Officials at Boeing and Qatar were not available for comment as Aviation Business went to press.

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