PARIS, Sept 10: Qatar Airways signed on Friday a letter of intent to buy 60 Airbus A350 jets, sealing a deal provisionally announced in June. The letter of intent crowns months of negotiations on the $10.6 billion deal and was signed when Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin met Qatar’s First Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabr al-Thanion Friday.

Qatar Airways said in June it was close to signing a deal to buy up to 60 of Airbus’s future A350 jets worth $10.6 billion and would also buy at least 20 of Boeing Co.’s larger 777 planes for around $4.6 billion.

The deal comes as the airline industry waits for the official launch of the A350 project which was delayed in June because of initial lack of interest in the aircraft compared with rival Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner.

Airbus parent firm EADS co-Chairman Noel Forgeard told reporters on the margins of Friday’s signing ceremony that he still expected to launch the A350 at the end of September.

When the EADS board decided to postpone until the end of September, give or take a few days, the launch of the A350, it was not linked to uncertainties over the commercial viability of the project.

We had what we needed; the planned purchase by Qatar Airways was already known, he said.—Reuters

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