By Shane McGinley
Akbar Al Baker says EU is trying to "back track" on plan after it was suspended for one year
The EU's decision to suspend its carbon emissions trading scheme for non-EU airlines for one year is an attempt to "back track" on the controversial plan, Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker has told Arabian Business.
The scheme, which came into force on 1 January 2012, required carriers based outside the EU to pay for their emissions when flying into and out of the bloc. Gulf operators, including Qatar Airways, had been vociferous in their criticism of the idea, claiming it was an indirect tax and a way of "covering up" the EU's own financial troubles.
On Monday, EU Climate commissioner Connie Hedegaard said she had agreed to "stop the clock" on the scheme for one year in order to encourage talks on a global emissions deal.
Qatar Airways CEO Al Baker welcomed the decision, but suggested that the suspension could last longer than the initial 12 months.
"I know that maybe the EU is trying to back track and they realised they have goofed on this matter, and this is a face saving way to say they are going to delay," Al Baker told Arabian Business in Seattle.
"I think the delay will be very prolonged and it was a bold decision and a very wise decision, as it going to be a real problem in their hands to resolve this decision with major countries who have rejected complying with this requirement," he added.
His comments came as the Gulf state on Monday took delivery of its first 787 Dreamliner aircraft from Boeing. On Wednesday, it will be the first Gulf carrier to fly the long-delayed aircraft to the Middle East.
With 30 787s on order and an option on an additional 30, Qatar Airways will be the first carrier in the region to operate the aircraft in the Gulf.
The Doha-based flag carrier will operate the fuel-efficient aircraft on its London Heathrow route. Powered by General Electric GEnx engines, Qatar’s first 787 off the assembly line from Boeing’s factory in Seattle will carry 254 passengers, with 22 in business class.
"It was worth the wait... It is the ultimate in luxury," Al Baker said of the aircraft, which has been delayed several times due to production issues.
"This is an historic week as we officially take delivery of our first 787 and prepare to fly it home to Doha for what truly will be a moment of pride and joy for all those associated with the newest aircraft to join our fleet,” he added, but declined to confirm or deny whether Qatar Airways was compensated by Boeing for the delay in delivery.
The 787 Dreamliner is made up of composite materials making it a lighter and more fuel efficient than any comparable aircraft of its size and range.
Key features include larger windows, lower cabin pressure at higher altitude ensuring less fatigue, mood lighting throughout the aircraft and more passenger space and comfort.
Qatar Airways currently has a fleet of 111 aircraft flying to 120 destinations across Europe, Middle East, Africa, Asia Pacific, North America and South America.
Since the beginning of 2012, Qatar Airways has launched flights to 10 new destinations - Baku (Azerbaijan); Tbilisi (Georgia); Kigali (Rwanda); Zagreb (Croatia), Erbil (Iraq), Baghdad (Iraq), Perth (Australia), Kilimanjaro (Tanzania); Yangon (Myanmar) and Maputo (Mozambique).
Just like Al Baker Goofed when he said his airport would be open on 12 Dec 2012 (12.12.12).
I wonder has he back tracked on that statement!
Talk about the pot calling the kettle black.