AFP, Reuters


Qatar Airways chief Akbar al-Baker yesterday took a swipe at legacy carriers which complain of competition from Gulf carriers, accusing them of being “inefficient” and protected by EU policies.

Legacy carriers “are screaming about the Gulf Three,” al-Baker told an aviation forum in Dubai referring to his airline, Dubai’s Emirates and Abu Dhabi’s Etihad. “There is enough business... They are inefficient,” he charged.

Al-Baker said workers’ unions were the cause of problems faced by legacy carriers, not Gulf carriers which have seized a sizeable share of transit travel between the West and Asia and Australasia. “It is the unions that should be blamed,” he said.

Al-Baker charged that the European Union intervened far more than the US when it came to the protection of home carriers. “EU without doubt,” he said, naming France and Germany in particular. “We have problems in France, Germany, the Netherlands and elsewhere... Stirred by two individual countries: Germany and France,” he said.

European airlines, notably Air France and KLM, have voiced concern at increased activity by Gulf-based companies, complaining of differences in taxation that they say cause unfair competition.

Gulf-based airlines have closed financing agreements for a total of 16 Boeing and Airbus aircraft, according to statements from the carriers and banks involved. The region’s airlines are securing funds as they take delivery of what Boeing has forecast to be a need for 2,610 aircraft by 2033, valued at $550bn.

The deals follow Qatar Airways closing a sale and operating leaseback transaction with Standard Chartered for three 777-300ER and five 787-8 aircraft. It was the first sale and leaseback transaction entered into by the Qatari flag carrier, according to local press reports.

Emirates and Qatar are among the fastest-growing airlines in the world. In July, Emirates finalised a $56bn to buy 150 777X jets, while Qatar ordered 50 of the aircraft.

Dubai’s Emirates airline has signed a 1.1bn dirham ($299.5mn) financing deal with a group of banks for the purchase of two Boeing planes.


‘Delay on A380 delivery cost $200mn’

Qatar Airways’ CEO said yesterday a three-month delay in the delivery of A380 superjumbo jets had cost the airline $200mn.

“It cost us nearly three months ... In revenue over $200mn,” chief executive Akbar al-Baker said on the sidelines of an aviation conference in Dubai.


Airbus to deliver first A350 to Qatar Airways by mid-Dec




European plane maker Airbus aims to deliver the first A350 jetliner to launch customer Qatar Airways by mid-December, the airline said on Tuesday.

Gulf News quoted its chief executive Akbar al-Baker as saying the mid-sized jet would be delivered between December 12 and 15 and appeared to rule out any last-minute hitches that might rattle investors in plane maker parent Airbus Group.

“Everything is perfect,” he said, according to the Dubai-based newspaper.

In the US, a representative for the Gulf carrier said the aircraft would be delivered around December 12.

The A350, Airbus’s newest plane and made with a carbon-fibre composite fuselage, is a direct competitor to Boeing’s composite 787 Dreamliner.

The long-range, twin-aisle plane received its certification by the US Federal Aviation Administration last week, after winning European safety approval in September.

The version of the jet certified by the FAA and European regulators, the A350-900, is designed to seat 314 passengers.

Airbus has booked 750 orders for the A350, including 549 for the A350-900 and 169 for the larger A350-1000, which is due to enter service in 2017. The smaller A350-800 has 32 orders but is likely to be phased out to make way for the revamped A330neo.

Airbus is planning a steep production increase, aiming to build three A350s per month by year-end, up from two a month currently. By the end of next year it plans to build five a month and to hit 10 a month by mid-2018.

Airbus originally targeted entry to service in 2012 when it re-launched the current design of the A350 at the Farnborough Airshow in July 2006.

It later slowed development, both to ensure its maturity and iron out problems including a glitch in wings production, but the schedule has been broadly stable for the past two years.

The plane’s successful test flight programme, regulatory certification and impending first delivery have been well received by Airbus investors, helping shares rise more than 7% in the past month.


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