Thursday, October 27, 2016

Qatar Airways still doubtful will get all A350s this year

Qatar Airways said it still doubts it will get all 12 A350 planes it is supposed to receive this year, despite reassurances from Airbus after supply chain problems hit deliveries of the wide-body jet.

"I don't think we will get them. That's why we ordered Boeing, which we will start getting next year, to fill the gap with the Airbus deliveries," Chief Executive Akbar Al Baker said at a conference on Thursday, referring to an order placed earlier this month for up to 100 Boeing jets.

Qatar Airways has received four of the A350 jets this year. Airbus on Thursday reaffirmed its target of 50 A350 deliveries this year including several aircraft still to be delivered to Qatar, a spokesman said.

Al Baker also said he would keep exercising cancellation clauses on deliveries of A320neo jets after engine problems. Engine maker Pratt & Whitney has started shipping engines with modifications, but Al Baker said he wanted to see the engines in operation for a year or two first.

"I have to be convinced. I want others to operate them and convince me it is ok. Putting a band aid on a big wound doesn't mean it is fixed," he said on the sidelines of the CAPA Global Summit in Amsterdam.

Pratt said its geared turbofan engines are operating with 99.9 percent dispatch reliability at eight airlines that have them, meaning engine-related departure delays are in line with industry norms. The engines also have met or exceed performance targets, including 16 percent lower fuel consumption compared with prior-generation planes.

Pratt recently cut its delivery forecast to 150 engines this year, down from 200, due to delays in fan blade manufacturing. But shipments are expected to more than double next year, to as many as 350, United Technologies Chief Executive Officer Greg Hayes said on Tuesday.

Al Baker said he now expected a deal to buy a 49 percent stake in Italian carrier Meridiana to be completed by the beginning of next year, saying certain conditions still had to be met.

Union officials have said the deal would cut about 400 jobs and cut wages by 20 percent compared with the pay stipulated in national collective contracts for the sector.

"We are not a charity organization. We are not there to create jobs, people have to earn them," Al Baker said.

(Victoria Bryan - Reuters / Yahoo Business News)

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