Wed, Nov 16, 2011
Airline CEO Said European Planemaker Should 'Go Back To Basics'
The CEO of Qatar Airways unexpectedly pulled the plug, at least
temporarily, on a $6.5 billion deal with Airbus, saying at the
Dubai Air Show that the European planemaker is "still learning how
to make airplanes." But later in the day, the two kissed and made
up and signed the deal.
Akbar Al Baker had earlier signed a separate, smaller deal to
purchase two Boeing 777 freighters. Al Baker said the airline had
reached "an impasse" with Airbus, which cancelled a scheduled news
conference in which it was expected to announce an agreement for
the purchase of five A380s and 50 A320neo airplanes, according to a
report in Reuters.
Airbus had hoped that the Qatar Airways announcement would
generate a great deal of media buzz, but it instead turned the
publicity somewhat negative, at least for a few hours. Al Baker
told reporters he was not hopeful that a deal could be reached. "If
this is resolved, fine ... If not, then bye-bye," he was quoted as
But then, after some additional negotiations, the two
rescheduled the media event and Al Baker signed the "firm" order
for the A320neo aircraft as well as the A380s.
Al Bakar is reportedly frustrated with the pace at which Airbus
is developing the A350XWB composite airplane. Qatar Airways will be
the launch customer for the new wide-body airliner, and last week
Airbus announced that the project would be delayed an additional
six months. Bloomberg News reports that John Leahy, the head of
Airbus Sales, said he would probably need to send his Middle East
deputy to Doha to explain the A350-1000 to the airline. In the news
conference Leahy said Airbus is not in the process of re-designing
the largest variant of its A350 line.
Al Baker has been at times critical of both Boeing and Airbus.
The airline exec called the 787 a "failure" in November of 2010,
and delayed the delivery of the first Boeing 747-8
to Cargolux in a similar last-minute grandstand play last
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