The transaction covers the purchase of two Airbus A321s, eight A330-200s, six A330-300s and two A340-600s, Airbus said in a statement at the Paris Air Show in Le Bourget.

  

In addition, Qatar Airways has taken an option to acquire six A330s and eight A340-600s, Airbus said.

  

The carrier is also to lease two A330-200 aircraft.

  

Making history

Airbus further announced that it would deliver two A380 superjumbo passenger planes to Qatar Airways in early 2009 under terms of a previous accord.

 

Responding to the contract, French Transport Minister Gilles de Robien said, “This means that Airbus, this European company, is easily outdoing its United States competitor," referring to the transatlantic rivalry with Boeing Co .

 

Rapid growth

 

According to a Qatar Airways official, the airline has been growing at a rapid pace. By 2007, Qatar Airways will have more than 35 aircraft. Currently it operates 18 aircraft, which is a big leap considering it had just four aircraft five years ago, the official added.

 

Earlier this week at the Paris Air Show, Airbus won a big order from the Dubai-based airline Emirates for 41 jets, including 21 A380s, the 555-seat superjumbo that Airbus will begin delivering to airlines in 2006.

 

Top aero-engine makers GE Aircraft Engines (GE) and Rolls-Royce Plc (RR) are expected to supply the engines for the planes.