"Qatar Airways has signed a firm contract with Airbus for two A380s with options for two more as well as two ultra-range A340-600s with options for a further eight," said Noel Forgeard, president and chief executive of Airbus.

"This is in the frame of the memoradums of understanding that were signed in Paris (in June). We are extremely happy to firm up the orders here," he told reporters at the Dubai air show.

Forgeard would not disclose the precise value of the deal, but said it was worth about $3 billion dollars, valued at catalogue prices. 

"This is another landmark in Airbus' success in the region where Airbus has held a 60-percent market share over the past 20 years," the chief of the European aviation giant said.

"This is another landmark in Airbus' success in the region where Airbus has held a 60-percent market share over the past 20 years"

Noel Forgeard,
Airbus president

"We have signed a firm order today, but this is all part of the $5.1 billion frame agreement that was signed in Paris," said Qatar Airways CEO Akbar al-Bakr. 

Qatar Airways operates an all-Airbus fleet of 27 aircraft, but plans to increase it to 52 in the next five years. 

Bakr announced on Sunday plans to soon tender out $2.5 billion worth of construction work for Doha's new international airport, which he said would become a major travel hub rivalling Dubai.

Emirates order

Dubai's Emirates Airlines announced on Monday a three-billion-dollar contract to order engines from an alliance of US engine makers for its A-380 Airbus planes. 

"Emirates has chosen the GE (General Electric) and Pratt and Whitney (GE-PW) Engine Alliance for the contract to supply 92 installed and nine spare GP7200 engines for 23 of its A-380 Airbus," the airline's chairman Shaikh Ahmad bin Said al-Maktum told a press conference in Dubai.

In February last year, Emirates signed a memorandum of
understanding worth up to 1.5 billion dollars with the American GE-PW Engine Alliance to supply 98 GP7200 engines for 22 of its A380s, delivery for which will begin in September 2006.