Al-Baker: says Airbus has been very transparent with Qatar Airways on the subject of its test results.
By Pratap John/Chief Business Reporter
Qatar Airways, which is the launch customer of the Airbus A350 XWB, will receive first of the fuel-efficient, mid-sized wide-body airliner later this year and nine more in 2015, Group CEO Akbar al-Baker has said.
“The first A350 XWB delivery will be at the end of this year. The test programme is going absolutely perfectly, without any glitches. Airbus has been very transparent with us on the subject of its test results,” al-Baker told Gulf Times yesterday.
“Once Airbus ramps up production we will receive larger numbers of Airbus A350 a year. It will be more than one aircraft a month, starting from 2016. After which we will receive more than two aircraft a month. In 2017 we will start receiving the stretched version A350-1000, for which we are also the launch customer”, al-Baker said.
The A350 XWB is a family of mid-sized wide-body airliners designed to enhance fuel, operating costs and environmental efficiencies during medium-to-long haul airline operations.
He said Qatar Airways would receive its first superjumbo Airbus A380 by April or May.
“We will receive three superjumbos…one after the other this year,” he told Gulf Times in Doha yesterday.
Asked when the first superjumbo would be pressed into service, he said, “It depends on test flights. Once we receive the aircraft, we will do the test flights,” al-Baker said.
Currently, the Airbus A380 is the world’s largest passenger aircraft. Qatar Airways has placed order for some 13 A380-800s including options.
On Hamad International Airport opening al-Baker said: “It will be operational by the second quarter of this year.”
Representing one third the size of the city of Doha, HIA spans some 22 square km, and is one of the most elaborate greenfield airport projects in the world today.
Al-Baker termed as “unfair” the stand taken by some European carriers against Gulf airlines and affirmed his airline does not receive any “government subsidy”.
Recently, Germany’s largest airline Lufthansa called on European regulators to block plans by Abu Dhabi’s state-owned Etihad Airways to invest in ailing Italian carrier Alitalia, saying it would amount to unfair competition.
Lufthansa has fiercely lobbied against Gulf airlines such as Etihad, Emirates, and Qatar Airways, and their fast-paced expansion in Europe and said in the past they benefit from “unfair” state aid.
Al-Baker said: “It is not true that we are subsidised. The fact of the matter is that the highest fuel price we pay as an airline is in Qatar. We are fighting for cheaper fuel price…so that we can expand and that other airlines that operate to and from Doha can benefit.”
Asked whether the rapid growth of the big three Gulf carriers were rattling the European airlines, al-Baker said; “You must understand they are also growing in the phase of our growth. So what then is the problem?” Business Page 3