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Wed 19 Nov 2014 10:16 AM

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Qatar Airways lost $200m because of A380 delays, says Al Baker

Three-month delay was over the quality of cabin fittings

Qatar Airways lost $200m because of A380 delays, says Al Baker

Qatar Airways' CEO said on Wednesday a three-month delay in the delivery of A380 superjumbo jets had cost the airline $200 million.

"It cost us nearly three months ... In revenue over $200 million," chief executive officer Akbar Al Baker said on the sidelines of an aviation conference in Dubai.

Qatar Airways took delivery of its first A380 in September, following a three-month standoff with European planemaker Airbus over the quality of cabin fittings.

Al Baker said at the time Airbus was not to blame for the delayed delivery of the world's largest airliner, defusing the row after earlier threatening to seek compensation.

He also expressed confidence that the mid-sized A350, the company's newest model, would be delivered on time before the end of the year and hinted at a possible new plane order.

"Qatar Airways has been very proactive with Airbus on the A350 programme," he told reporters.

"This is a very fine airplane. The aircraft will - God willing - be delivered to us before the end of the year on schedule and we may have some additional surprises for you which I will not discuss with you now."

Al Baker was speaking at a handover ceremony (pictured below) in Hamburg, Germany for the first of the company's 10 A380s on order.

Qatar Airways is vying with other Gulf airlines to showcase innovative features and comforts inside the aircraft's spacious cabins. Abu Dhabi's Etihad is also due to start A380 services soon, joining the largest A380 customer Emirates of Dubai.

The cabin dispute coincided with a problem of leaking seals in the doors of the A380, forcing Airbus to modify the design after several reports of cabin noise that in one case caused a Singapore Airlines jet to make an unscheduled landing en route.

Airbus chief executive Fabrice Bregier said a permanent solution would be implemented starting, in the case of Qatar Airways, with its fourth aircraft which is due later this year.

On Tuesday, Reuters reported Airbus aims to deliver the first A350 jetliner to the Gulf carrier, which is the aircraft's launch customer, by mid-December.

Gulf News quoted 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 planemaker parent Airbus Group.

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

In the United States, 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-fiber 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 program, regulatory certification and impending first delivery have been well received by Airbus investors, helping shares rise more than 7 percent in the past month.

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