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Qantas launches contest to replace small jets -sources

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SYDNEY, Oct 3 (Reuters) - Qantas Airways has launched negotiations with planemakers aimed at the gradual renewal of its main narrowbody and regional airliner fleets, industry sources said.

The Australian carrier is studying the Airbus A220 and Brazilian Embraer's E2 to replace a regional fleet of 20 Boeing 717s and 18 Fokker 100s, they added.

Airbus and Boeing will face off separately as Qantas seeks to renew an existing fleet of narrowbody Boeing 737-800s, they said. The combined moves are the start of what could lead to staggered purchases involving 100 or more jets over time.

In Boston, where airline executives were gathering for an industry meeting, Qantas officials declined to comment. Planemakers Airbus, Boeing and Embraer also declined to comment. (Reporting by Jamie Freed, additional reporting by Tim Hepher, editing by Philippa Fletcher)