By Vittorio Hernandez

Sydney, Australia

Qantas signed a contract to order from Airbus 110 new aircraft. It is the largest single commercial jet order in Australian aviation history.

Qantas ordered 32 A320s and 78 A320 NEOs. The contract was signed by Qantas Chief Executive Alan Joyce and Airbus Chief Operation Officer John Leany.

Eleven of the new orders will be used by a new Qantas premium airline to be based in either Kuala Lumpur or Singapore, while 99 will go to Jetstar to accommodate the growing number of passengers and replace aircraft with leases that are about to end.

Prior to the order, Qantas planes were experiencing aviation accidents because of the old Rolls-Royce engines that need to be replaced. In November 2010, a Qantas A380 from London to Sydney made an emergency landing after a stopover in Singapore when one of its four Rolls-Royce Trend 900 engines blew out.

Qantas then admitted that 50 percent of the engines on its Airbus A380 jets are due for replacement.

After the accident, Qantas grounded six A380s, while Singapore Airlines, which similarly has Rolls-Royce engines on its A380s, canceled several trips to replace the engines.

The purchase will surely incur the ire of trade unions in Qantas that have been bargaining for better pay deals. To protest the prolonged wage negotiations, Qantas baggage handlers, ground crew, engineers and pilots have struck the past few weeks, disrupting the travel plans of thousands of ticket holders.


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