Qatar Airways sees Dreamliner on track, eyes fresh Airbus order

CEO Akbar Al Baker confirms talks for additional A380s; fleet set to grow to 120 aircraft by 2013
Qatar Airways sees Dreamliner on track, eyes fresh Airbus order
CEO of Qatar Airways Akbar Al Baker said the carrier is in talks with Airbus for additional A380s
By Claire Ferris-Lay
Tue 03 May 2011 09:47 AM

Qatar Airways, the Gulf state’s flag carrier, has received specific dates for the delivery of its much-delayed Boeing 787 order and is on track to receive the Dreamliner ahead of schedule.

The airline, which sees its fleet size growing to 120 aircraft over the next two years, is also in talks with Airbus to purchase additional A380s, CEO Akbar Al Baker said Monday.

“We have five A380s on order and of course we are in negotiation for purchasing additional A380s aircraft,” said Al Baker said at a press conference in Dubai.

“As far as the 787 is concerned… all the problems with this airplane have been resolved. We already have the delivery dates of my airplanes, we already have confirmed slots.”

Al Baker, who has been a vocal critic of the delay in delivery of the 787 Dreamliner aircraft, had previously threatened to shift his business to Airbus.

“I am confident that Boeing, once it starts the second production line in Charleston, will be able to get our airplanes faster than the dates that they have indicated to us. All the mishaps and misadventures of the 787 is behind us,” he said.

Along with Gulf rivals Etihad and Emirates Airway, Qatar Airways is one of the largest buyers of new aircraft, with orders for 80 Airbus A350s, 60 Boeing 787s and five Airbus SAS A380s.

The carrier signed a $1.3bn contract with US planemaker Boeing last month to buy five Boeing 777 planes to add to its existing 97-plane fleet. The airline already operates 25 777s.

The state-backed airline said in March it would hire 11,500 new staff over the next three years to keep pace with an expansion plan that will see it serve 120 destinations by 2013.

New routes to Medina, Saudi Arabia, Entebbe, Uganda and Baku in Azerbaijan were unveiled by the carrier Monday, with Al Baker confirming its route expansion would remain “aggressive.”

Qatar Airways, half-owned by the state's sovereign wealth Qatar Investment Authority, also confirmed it plans to acquire a third of European air cargo company Cargolux.

The deal will be confirmed “in the next few weeks,” Al Baker said.

The airline said in December it would launch an initial public offering (IPO) in early 2012 after three consecutive years of profit.

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