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Last Updated: Wednesday, 14 November 2007, 10:40 GMT
Qantas order signals growth plans
Qantas jets
Qantas has a 65% share of Australia's market
Australian airline Qantas has agreed to buy up to 188 planes from Airbus and Boeing, in a move to widen its network of flights in Asia and Australia.

The order includes 68 of the A320 model from Europe's Airbus and 31 of the 737-800 model from US firm Boeing. The value of the order is unknown.

The order also gives Qantas the chance to buy another 40 planes from Airbus and 49 from Boeing.

The move comes amid tough competition from rivals operating in the region.

The Qantas order was "a big signal to both Virgin Blue and Tiger and any other prospective entrants that it will take no prisoners", Derek Sadubin, an analyst at the consultancy Center for Asia Pacific Aviation, said.

Qantas has a 65% share of the Australian market as well as 33% share of international routes to Australia.

The decision, coupled with previously made orders for the Airbus A380 and Boeing 787 Dreamliner, "secures an order stream for next generation aircraft that will allow the group to meet long-term demand growth and replace older aircraft over the next decade," said Qantas chief executive Geoff Dixon.

Speaking to shareholders earlier on Wednesday, Mr Dixon said the firm had been largely able to mitigate the impact of high oil prices following "strong demand and the escalating Australian dollar and the use of fuel surcharge".

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