Lufthansa, not Qatar Air, to take first Airbus A320neo jet

Thu Dec 10, 2015 11:56am EST
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By Victoria Bryan

GENEVA (Reuters) - Germany's Lufthansa (LHAG.DE: Quote) has stepped up to become the first airline due to take delivery of a revamped Airbus passenger jet, after Qatar Airways voiced uncertainty over the technical performance of its Pratt & Whitney (UTX.N: Quote) engines.

Confirming a news report, the German flag carrier said it would take delivery of the upgraded A320 earlier than expected.

"We expect to get our first A320neo in December and that would technically make us the launch operator," a spokesman said on Thursday.

The A320neo, seen as a key profit driver for the European planemaker and its suppliers in coming years, is getting its final touches after winning safety approval in late November.

Until now, Qatar Airways had been first in line to operate the latest version of Airbus's best-selling jetliner.

But Chief Executive Akbar Al Baker opened up the prospect of a delay to the Gulf carrier's first A320neo at a news conference on Wednesday, saying that while he still expected delivery this year, any delay would be Pratt & Whitney's fault.

Both Pratt & Whitney and Airbus said they would meet an end-year target for first delivery, without saying which carrier would receive the jet.

"Along with Airbus, we are continuing to work with early customers on the first delivery of the aircraft. The team is on track to deliver the first A320neo this year," a spokeswoman for Pratt & Whitney said on Wednesday.   Continued...

A Lufthansa airline logo is pictured in Frankfurt airport, Germany, November 6, 2015. REUTERS/Ralph Orlowski/Files