Air Mauritius orders six A350 aircraft in fleet revamp

FARNBOROUGH England Wed Jul 16, 2014 9:04am EDT

A pilot looks out of the cockpit of an Airbus A350 aircraft as it is parked at the 2014 Farnborough International Airshow in Farnborough, southern England July 13, 2014.    REUTERS/Kieran Doherty

A pilot looks out of the cockpit of an Airbus A350 aircraft as it is parked at the 2014 Farnborough International Airshow in Farnborough, southern England July 13, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Kieran Doherty

FARNBOROUGH England (Reuters) - Air Mauritius AIMK.MZ gave a small boost to the Airbus (AIR.PA) A350 jet on Wednesday, placing an order for six of the long range, widebody planes as it battles competition from Middle East rivals.

Air Mauritius said it had signed a tentative deal to buy four A350-900 planes from Airbus and would lease two from lessor AerCap (AER.N) to replace its six A340 planes.

The deal for the four new planes being ordered is worth around $1.2 billion at list prices.

Dubai-based airline Emirates had last month canceled an order for 70 A350 planes in a setback to Airbus. The first of the new jets is due to be delivered to Qatar Airways at the end of this year.

Air Mauritius Chief Executive Andries Viljoen said the airline was being put in a challenging position by Emirates, which announced earlier this month it would be launching double daily flights using the A380 superjumbo to the island nation.

Air Mauritius has been undergoing a two-year turnaround plan and for the year to end-March reported a profit of 8 million euros ($10.8 million). It also achieved this week a target of improving its rating from airline reviewer Skytrax to 4 stars from 3 stars.

"Our next major project is the review of our shorthaul routes and fleets," Viljoen added.

($1 = 0.7390 Euros)

(Reporting by Victoria Bryan; Editing by Maria Sheahan)

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