Qatar Airways says A350 delivery on schedule; plans order in Dubai

Tue Oct 29, 2013 6:30am EDT
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DOHA (Reuters) - Qatar Airways, the launch customer for Airbus's EAD.PA A350 plane, expects the European planemaker to start delivering the aircraft by the second half of next year, the airline's chief executive said on Tuesday.

The Gulf carrier has ordered 80 A350 jets from Airbus.

"We are confident that Airbus will deliver the A350 by the second half of 2014," Akbar al Baker said on the sidelines of an event to mark the airline joining the oneworld airline alliance.

His comments were in line with Airbus's program chief Didier Evrard, who had said earlier that the aim was to deliver the lightweight aircraft in the second half of 2014.

The A350, designed to compete with Boeing's (BA.N: Quote) 787 Dreamliner and the larger Boeing 777, staged its maiden flight in June. The European planemaker now has two aircraft flying and has notched up 75 flights and over 370 hours of flight tests.

By the end of the year, Airbus aims to freeze the design of the largest member of the A350 family, the 350-seat A350-1000. The aircraft is due to enter service in mid-2017, some three years ahead of a larger revamped version of Boeing's 777.

On Tuesday, Qatar Airways joined oneworld, an alliance which includes British Airways, as the Gulf carrier looks to expand its global reach through partnerships.

Its rival, Abu Dhabi's Etihad Airways, has forged several codeshare agreements with Skyteam member Air France (AIRF.PA: Quote), while Emirates has agreed to co-operate with Australia's Qantas.

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