Qatar Airways said on Monday it was upgrading five of its Airbus <AIR.PA> A350 jets on order to the largest model, in a boost for the European planemaker’s largest twin-engined jet.
The Gulf airline was the launch customer for both A350 models and said in February it could switch some of its existing order of A350-900s to the bigger A350-1000.
“Since taking delivery of the world’s first A350-1000 in February 2018, we have been extremely pleased with the aircraft’s performance, which has prompted us to update our original order,” Qatar Airways Chief Executive Akbar al-Baker said in a statement.
State-owned Qatar Airways has upgraded the order amid a political dispute in the Arab region that has forced the airline to increase operational costs by flying longer routes.
The upgraded order will come as a relief to Airbus, which is betting on the A350-1000 to contain any market pressure from rival Boeing <BA.N> which is developing its new model 777 twin-engined jet.
The A350-1000 is designed to seat 366 people and competes head-to-head with Boeing’s profitable 777. Airbus says the lightweight A350-1000 is 25 percent more efficient than the most popular current version of the 777, the 777-300ER.
Qatar Airways is the top A350 customer with 76 on order, which now includes 42 A350-1000s with a list price of $367 million. Airbus said that in Qatar Airways’ configuration, the A350-1000 features 44 more seats than the A350-900.