Qatar Airways has cancelled its first Airbus A320neo jet and remains at an impasse with the European plane maker over delays in deliveries caused by engine problems, its chief executive said yesterday.
Akbar al-Baker said the carrier would soon start talks with alternative engine supplier CFM, and had held talks with rival plane maker Boeing over switching to 737s, but was not yet walking away from Airbus.
“We will switch to the Max if we cannot resolve our issue.
We will go to current option 737s and convert it to Max,” he said, adding he was sure Boeing could find production slots if needed.
The airline announced in May it was reducing the frequency of more than a dozen regular routes from Doha because of hold-ups in the delivery of new planes from European manufacturer Airbus. The delays are having an impact on Qatar Airways’ bottom line, but the carrier said it is not seeking compensation, al- Baker told reporters on the sidelines of the International Air Transport Association annual meeting in Dublin.
“We are 5 aircraft down this summer. This is why we are screaming because it is making a huge impact on my bottom line,” al-Baker told journalists.
“We are still at an impasse. We have walked away from our first A320neo because it is more than a certain number of days late, so exercised a walk away clause,” al-Baker said, adding the carrier would exercise walk-away clauses on the other four delayed planes when they reach the time limit.
He added he is also still waiting for deliveries of three A350 planes, which have been held up since February due to issues with cabin equipment.
He said he expects Airbus to deliver 10 of the planes as promised this year and that he had met with the CEO of Airbus’s plane making unit Fabrice Bregier and programme executive Didier Evrard yesterday to “iron out the issues”.
“The ball is in court of Airbus. We will start delivery of the airplane delayed from February imminently, provided the issues we have are resolved,” he said, adding the A350 problems were likely to be resolved before the A320neo issues.
Meanwhile, Qatar Airways is not interested in buying any more A380 super jumbo jets, nor is it interested in a possible stretched version of the larger version of the A350 plane, al-Baker said.
“We already have 777-9X and I think the aircraft that we bought will do the job we want it to do,” al-Baker said of the potential stretched A350.
Holding in BA-owner is strategic cost saver, says al-Baker
Qatar Airways said yesterday its 15 % stake in British Airways-owner IAG was a strategic rather than financial investment which helped purchasing and network planning, but it was not seeking a board seat.
The Gulf carrier said in May it had increased its stake in International Consolidated Airlines Group to 15 % from 12 % amid a rapid global expansion.
“IAG is a strategic investment, not a financial investment,” chief executive Akbar al-Baker told reporters at the International Air Transport Association annual meeting in Dublin, adding Qatar was “satisfied with 15.01%.”. “The benefit is really unlimited, joint purchases, joint insurance, joint component repairs, handling, joint catering,” he said, adding that Qatar’s Hamad International airport in Doha was a perfect hub to feed India, where IAG was not very strong.
He said he had “absolute confidence” in the management of IAG and that Qatar was not seeking a seat on the board.
Speaking to Reuters at the same conference, IAG chief executive Willie Walsh insisted that the Qatar Airways holding had no bearing on any operational tie-ups and any deepening of the partnership was “completely separate” to the equity holding.
While the airlines’ cargo partnership, joint procurement and code shares were working well, “we would do these whether they (Qatar Airways) had a stake in us or not,” he added.
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