Airbus budges to Qatar Airways demand, to deliver upgraded version of A380s

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Akbar Al Baker – CEO Qatar Airways. Photo – Moodiereport.com

Qatar Airways Chief Executive Officer Akbar Al Baker said his airline will receive an upgraded version of Airbus SAS’s A380 superjumbo after refusing to take jets with wing faults.

“Qatar Air insisted that Airbus provide us with the new, certified wing for the A380 and Airbus has kindly obliged,” Al Baker told Bloomberg on Monday at the Farnborough air show. “We will receive the A380 with the new wing which will not require modification.”

The CEO added that the Qatari flag carrier will receive its first A380 delivery in January 2014. The France-based airplane maker had previously announced that all examples delivered through the beginning of 2014 would suffer from the wing-rib defect and require both short-term fixes should cracks develop and a permanent repair later that can take eight weeks per plane.

The European Aviation Safety Agency, the region’s flight- safety regulator, told last week it will give the final approval to a redesign of the wing by the end of this year.

Al Baker added that Qatar Air will give Airbus “the benefit of the doubt” over the largest version of its A350 wide-body plane.

“They have been very forthcoming,” he said. “They have been listening to us and I think they’ll get things right.”

The CEO disclosed that the Qatari airline posted a profit of $206 million in the year ended 31 March. He suggested that while earnings may be lower this year it will remain profitable even as economies slow.

“We have no decline in passenger numbers, quite the contrary,” the Doha-based airline executive said, adding that his expansion plans are being frustrated by the inability of manufacturers to further accelerate deliveries.

Last year, Qatar Airways acquired a 35% stake in Cargolux Airlines International SA, Europe’s biggest freight-only carrier. Al Baker insisted that the company is interested in any further opportunities to expand its “footprint.”

He added that the Gulf carrier, which serves a network of 117 destinations, plans to announce a further batch of new routes in coming weeks.

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