Qatar Air CEO Moves Toward Boeing 777X Sign-off, Slams A380

Qatar Airways Ltd. Chief Executive Officer Akbar Al Baker said the second-biggest Gulf carrier is moving toward sign-off on an order for 50 Boeing Co. 777X jets, while criticizing Airbus Group NV for delays to its first A380s.

Qatar Air could conclude a $18 billion 777X deal announced at the Dubai Air Show in November as early as tomorrow at the Farnborough expo, Al Baker said in a interview, while adding that the carrier plans no big new announcements at the event.

The first-ever Airbus A350 wide-body to enter commercial service will be delivered on schedule by the end of the year, the CEO said. Qatar Air may also be interested in taking up production slots vacated by Gulf rival Emirates, he said.

“We have issues we have to address and then we will see,” Al Baker said in an interview at the Farnborough event. Qatar Air has ordered 43 A350-900s and 37 larger -1000s, while Emirates scrapped a deal for 50 -900s and 20 -1000s on June 11.

The delayed delivery of Qatar Air’s first A380 superjumbo relates to concerns “much bigger” than a simple interiors glitch such as problems with carpets, the CEO said, while declining to be more specific.

“I’m very angry because this is making an impact on our expansion plans,” Al Baker said. The Mideast airline had aimed to deploy its first A380, originally due in June, on services from its Doha base to London’s Heathrow airport. Two more planes due last month had also been earmarked for European routes.

Range, Pricing

Qatar Airways will examine performance, range and pricing information for the re-engined Airbus A330 wide-body plane announced by the European manufacturer today, the CEO said, while adding that the Boeing 787 Dreamliner that the carrier has bought most likely “does all that the A330neo does.”

Al Baker said there’s no issue of industry over-capacity of the kind recently cited by Deutsche Lufthansa AG and Air France-KLM Group when down-grading profit outlooks. Production delays with the 787 and holdups at Airbus in bringing the A350 to the market have actually led to pent-up demand, the executive said.

“It is their problem because they are not keeping their costs under control,” Al Baker said. “This is not the case with carriers in the Gulf.”

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