Is Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker Breaking His Word That The Airline Would Continue To Accept Ordered Aircraft After Cancelling Four Airbus A350?

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In light of the recent crisis in the gulf surrounding Qatar and their alleged support of terrorism, Qatar Airways CEO always maintained that the airline will ride it out and continue their growth process on schedule.

Even though he mentioned previously that Qatar Airways would continue to take delivery of ordered jets as planned the carrier has now cancelled four Airbus A350 on the grounds of delays caused by Airbus.

One can’t help if the reasons given by Qatar Airbus and their big mouthed CEO Al Baker aren’t a little bit too convenient in the current situation where the airline had to cancel flights to a long list of countries, freeing up massive capacity.

Bloomberg (see here) reported this week that Qatar would be cancelling the four A350 on grounds of delays.

Qatar Airways has scrapped orders for four Airbus SE A350-900 jets after deliveries were delayed by supplier issues.

The move was reflected in Airbus’s June order tally published Thursday and confirmed by a spokesman for the Toulouse, France-based company. Qatar Air is the biggest buyer of the A350, with 80 orders before the cancellations, as well as the launch customer having taken its first plane in December 2014.

Delivery issues stem from the manufacturer, Akbar Al Baker, Qatar’s chief executive officer, said in response to questions after Bloomberg reported the cancellation plan earlier. The airline’s A350 contract includes a clause allowing it to scrap handovers that are delayed beyond a certain point, Airbus said, adding that the planes will be reallocated to other customers. …

The Gulf airline is separately operating nine of its narrow-body A320 jets for the British Airways arm of IAG SA, in which it has a 20 percent stake, during a strike by cabin crew at the U.K. operator’s London Heathrow hub.

Airbus said it delivered 64 aircraft including eight A350s and booked a total of 138 orders in June. With cancellations the company now has a backlog across its aircraft programs of 6,771 planes amounting to about nine years of production at current rates.

It wasn’t mentioned how long the delivery delays are going to be but minor delays are a common occurrence with all aircraft manufacturers.

There is a very extensive interview CEO Akbar Al Baker gave to Qatar’s news agency Al Jazeera (see here) short after the gulf crisis began where he reiterated on continued growth.

Al Jazeera: When you took over in 1997, there were five aircraft, and now 196.

Al-Baker: Actually, it is 206, to be precise.

Al Jazeera: An extraordinary thing that you must be proud of. Do you not now really fear that it could all start going the other way because of politics?

Al-Baker: No, I disagree. It will actually continue to grow, and I’m sure, like I told you, that if I make a loss next year, I will tell you, at the same time, I would also tell you how many more aircraft we have, next year than what we had this year.

The video interview is 25 minutes long and it’s interesting to follow. Al Bakers actually does make a few valid points but I think everyone can agree that the entire situation is a mess.

Conclusion

While Qatar was able to temporarily lease their A320 aircraft including crew to British Airways (those which are usually used to fly between Qatar and Dubai, Abu Dhabi and other short haul routes) there are other medium haul destinations that leave capacity of larger aircraft on the table. Cairo for example was always served by a large B777 aircraft that sits now idle.

The contracts between airlines and aircraft manufacturers as well as leasing companies have stipulations for such cases and often the manufacturers have no choice than to begrudgingly accept the cancellations if they are to blame to the delays. Also no manufacturer wants to poise their relationship with a big carrier as they will still order other aircraft they need presently and in the future.

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  • Malcolm

    Qatar overestimated the demand for their services and are using short term political problems as an excuse to cancel a few orders. Airbus will advance the next airline’s delivery date, so no one is hurt. Nothing too unusual with this.

  • Ray Hughes

    We are lied to daily from our own government, why should this even register on my radar?

    • cscasi

      Because this deals with aviation related items of news.

  • David

    Nice thing about QR narrow bodies flying UK-Europe routes is that Club Europe passengers will finally have a true business class seat!