Qatar to Keep Airbus A330s Flying Longer on Dreamliner Delays

Qatar Airways Ltd. plans to keep its Airbus SAS A330 aircraft in service longer than previously planned because its new Boeing Co. 787s aren’t arriving fast enough, its chief executive officer said.

To avoid a capacity crunch on scheduled flights, Qatar is moving protectively to upgrade some of the 29 A330s it has in its fleet, CEO Akbar Al Baker said today. Changes include new seats and in-flight entertainment, he added, without specifying how many planes will be involved.

Al Baker said Qatar Airways has been falling behind its expansion plan because of delays on the 787, which is comparable in size to the A330 model. Qatar has already taken delivery of three 787s and should get two more on Dec. 19, taking the fleet to five. The figure will grow to 10 by the end of 2013, compared with an original plan for 30 before the program delays.

“Due to these 787 delays we have a huge upgrade program for our Airbus A330s to extend their time with us for at least three more years,” Al Baker told journalists in London.

A Boeing 787 jet just handed over to the airline developed a technical glitch similar to one that forced a United Continental Holdings Inc. aircraft to make an emergency landing, Al Baker said today. The plane has been grounded since Dec. 9 and may remain so for at least four days, a situation Al Baker called “unacceptable.”

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