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Qatar Air slams Boeing, may buy more Airbus

Paris, November 25, 2010

The head of Qatar Airways criticised Boeing and Canada's Bombardier over problems with plane developments on Thursday and threatened to shift extra business to European group Airbus.

Chief executive Akbar Al Baker said Boeing had 'failed' in development of its 787 Dreamliner, which is seen likely to suffer a further delay following a fire on a test flight, and Bombardier was suffering problems with its C-Series jetliner.

'I was really taken aback by the (787) programme. I never expected a programme could be delayed so much with a company like Boeing, which has pride in its quality. They have very clearly failed,' he told a news conference.   

Development of the carbon-composite 787 is running around three years late and analysts expect a further delay as Boeing addresses the cause of the fire which led to the test flight being grounded.   

He said Qatar Airways had been notified of some delays to 787 deliveries but declined to say whether this before or after the test flight incident two weeks ago.

Boeing declined to comment and Bombardier was not immediately available.    

Al Baker said he was considering increasing the airline's order for five Airbus A380 superjumbo planes and might order a re-engined version of the A320 single-aisle jetliner, which he expected to be launched by the end of this year.

'Today we have only five A380s on order and most definitely we will consider increasing this order,' he said.   

Qatar Airways has not chosen engines for the 500-seat plane and its decision will not be affected by the recent blowout of a Rolls-Royce engine on a Qantas A380, he said.

He said he doubted Airbus's next plane, the mid-sized A350, for which Qatar is the biggest customer, would be delayed as much as a year, as suggested by Emirates airline on Wednesday.   

The possible upgrade of the medium-haul A320 is designed to compete with Bombardier's new C-Series.

Al Baker later confirmed that his concerns related to the aircraft's engines, produced by United Technologies unit Pratt & Whitney.

Qatar was expected to buy C-Series jets at the Farnborough air show in July but plans were scrapped amid what Bombardier described as disagreements between Qatar Airways and the engine maker.

Visiting France to mark the opening of flights to Nice, Al Baker also hit back at European carriers in a growing trade war between airlines over US and European export credits and rejected accusations that his airline was subsidized. - Reuters




Tags: airbus | Qatar Airways | Boeing | A380 | Dreamliner | Baker |

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