Qantas buys 110 Airbus aircraft for Asia expansion

Qantas livery on an aircraft
Image caption Qantas is launching two new airlines in Asia

European aircraft maker Airbus has struck a deal worth US$9.5bn (£6.2bn) with Australia's Qantas for 110 jets.

The order, said by Qantas to be the country's single largest aircraft purchase by units, will underpin the airline's expansion into Asia.

Qantas, which is launching a low-cost and a premium airline in Asia, is buying 78 Airbus 320neos and 32 A320s.

Meanwhile, Airbus said it may help customers with aircraft financing if the euro debt crisis affects orders.

Qantas' expansion plans in Asia include a low-cost tie-up with Japan Airlines and Mitsubishi Corp, as well as a separate joint-venture premium airline.

The next-generation A320neo burns about 15% less fuel than the original A320 and is a key part of EADS-owned Airbus's growth plans.

Separately, Airbus said that it could get involved in debt financing to help customers if market conditions worsen.

There have been reports that banks and institutions that bankroll the airline market are starting to scale back lending.

"We will, if necessary, enter into some financing, although we're not a bank," Tom Williams, Airbus executive vice president, told a news conference in Sydney.

Airbus and rival Boeing have been ramping up production in the last couple of years.

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