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Turkish Airlines seeks 150 jets, France's Airbus hopes for order

A Turkish Airlines plane takes off at Ataturk International Airport in Istanbul Nov. 30, 2012.

OSMAN ORSAL/REUTERS

Turkish Airlines is in talks with aircraft manufacturers to buy 150 passenger jets, France's foreign trade ministry said.

Trade Minister Nicole Bricq is using an official visit to Turkey this week to press Airbus SAS's case for the business, which could include some of the European company's A380 superjumbo passenger jets, a ministerial statement said.

Industry sources have said that Turkey's fast-growing flag carrier was expected to seek a large number of narrow-body jets, such as the 150-seat Airbus A320, this year after focusing on larger models from both Airbus and its rival Boeing Co. in 2012.

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Boeing is expected to provide tough competition for the narrow-body business with its newly enhanced 737 MAX aircraft.

Last month Airbus won a $7.5-billion order from privately owned Pegasus Airlines for at least 75 of the A320 passenger jets.

Turkish Airlines told Reuters in September that it could buy six large wide-bodied aircraft, a category that includes the A380, the world's largest passenger jet.

The carrier's passenger numbers jumped to 35.9 million in the first 11 months of last year, up 19.5 per cent year on year.

Prospects of a sale by French-based Airbus to Turkish Airlines picked up last year after France's highest court overturned a law making it illegal to deny that the killing of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire a century ago was genocide.

Economic, political and military contacts had been frozen after France's parliament passed the law a year ago.

Relations came under renewed strain after the killing of three Kurdish militants in Paris last week.

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The airline held talks with Boeing about the latest version of its 747-8 jumbo jet last year. This model will be competing with the 525-seat A380 for the Turkish carrier's potential order.

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