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France, Turkey to mull major Airbus plane order: ministry

France, Turkey will discuss possible order for 150 Airbus passenger jets

Gulf News

Paris: France and Turkey will discuss a possible order for almost 150 Airbus passenger jets during a visit by French Trade Minister Nicole Bricq to Istanbul this week, the ministry said on Monday, another sign of thawing in commercial relations between the two countries.

A ministry statement said that ongoing talks between Turkish Airlines and Airbus, the European aircraft manufacturer, “centre on the acquisition of almost 150 aircraft, notably the A380 super jumbo jet.”

Airbus declined to comment on the statement, while Turkish Airlines did not reply immediately when contacted by AFP.

Bricq is to fly early on Tuesday to Istanbul, and is scheduled to meet on Wednesday with Temel Kotil, the head of Turkish Airlines, a trade ministry spokesman said.

Her visit comes as trade relations improve following a freeze early in 2011 after the French parliament approved a law to punish those who denied an Armenian genocide by Ottoman forces in 1915.

Turkey fiercely denies that such a genocide took place, and the law was overturned in March by France’s Constitutional Council.

Airbus now seeks to equip Turkey’s flag carrier as it prepares to substantially expand its fleet at a time that many European airlines are cutting back.

In December, Turkish Airlines ordered 15 long-range A330 Airbus jets in a deal that had a catalogue price of $3.5 billion, even as it bought 15 comparable Boeing 777-300ER plans, which would have a list price of $4.7 billion.

Airlines regularly negotiate better terms than the catalogue price however, especially for big orders.

Meanwhile, Turkish Airlines has floated the possibility of an order for 15 A380 super jumbo jets, the world’s biggest passenger airliner, though it could also opt for Boeing’s 747-8 jumbo jet.

On Tuesday, Bricq is also scheduled to meet Ali Sabanci, head of the Turkish airline Pegasus, which ordered 75 medium-range Airbus A320 planes in December. Pegasus also took an option for an additional 25 planes in a deal that carried an aggregate list price tag of $12 billion.