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Qatar Airways ends Airbus impasse with $6.5b order

20.05.2012
Qatar Airways Tuesday slammed European plane-maker Airbus just hours before announcing a massive $6.5 billion (Dh23.8 billion) deal with the company. In a press conference at the Dubai Airshow, Qatar Airways chief executive Akbar Al Baker said tha ...
 

Qatar Airways Tuesday slammed European plane-maker Airbus just hours before announcing a massive $6.5 billion (Dh23.8 billion) deal with the company.

In a press conference at the Dubai Airshow, Qatar Airways chief executive Akbar Al Baker said that he felt "Airbus is still learning how to make airplanes", after stating that negotiations with the Doha-based carrier had reached an "impasse". He said Qatar Airways had been looking to place orders for additional A380s and A320neos but was "pessimistic" about an agreement.

But just hours later, Qatar Airways finally announced the deal with Airbus after a frantic day of negotiations. The Doha-based carrier placed an order for 50 of Airbus' new generation A320neo jets with a further 30 on option, together with five additional A380 superjumbos and three on option — a total of 88 narrow- and wide-body aircraft.

The public upbraiding was another blow for Toulouse-based Airbus after their big rival Boeing got the 12th Dubai Airshow off to a flier on Sunday when it signed a $26 billion deal with Emirates, the largest deal in the US company's history by dollar value.

However, in a dramatic reversal, Al Baker reappeared before the world's media yesterday afternoon and stated the impasse was related to discussions over the A320 order, adding that Airbus had "quickly gone back to the drawing board and got it right".

"Every deal gets stuck in the middle sometimes, especially when lawyers throw their spanner in the wheel. The price was not at all an issue; it is water under the bridge now," Al Baker said.

"There was an impasse over the A320neo. Both sides were entrenched in their positions... [it] is not a big deal," he added.

John Leahy, Airbus chief operating officer, told reporters, "I think we learn very fast" in a blunt response to Al Baker's earlier comments. Leahy also said Qatar Airways would be the first company to receive delivery of the A319neo, A320neo and the A321neo.

Al Baker said Qatar Airways will have a fleet of 170 aircraft by 2016; it currently has a fleet of 103 and flies to 108 destinations.

The A320neo aircraft are designed to operate quieter with lower operating costs; the A320neo single aisle jet will be fitted with engines which Airbus estimates will offer 15 per cent fuel savings and emit 3,600 tonnes less carbon dioxide per aircraft each year.

Airbus also announced yesterday the sale of 30 A320neos to lessor Aviation Capital Group for $2.7 billion.

"The A320neo promises to be a great aircraft, which is why we have chosen it to form the backbone of our future single aisle expansion," Al Baker said.

Also considering Boeing

Asked if Qatar Airways, which yesterday signed a $560 million (at current list prices) deal with Boeing Co. for two Boeing 777-200 LR (long rage) freighter aircraft, was looking to place any further deals with Boeing, Al Baker said: "Yes, we will also talk to them for something else. We will wait to see; we will resolve our impasse with Airbus first."

Qatar Airways has been a launch customer for all three versions of the A350 — the A350-800, -900, and -1000, and all of them have been delayed. Asked how long Qatar Airways could wait for the A350s, Al Baker said: "Every manufacturer knows that Qatar Airways will not wait indefinitely."

Source: GULF NEWS

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