November 18, 2014 / 8:53 PM / in 3 years

Airbus to deliver first A350 jetliner around December 12

The logo of Airbus Group, Europe's largest aerospace group, is pictured in front of the company headquarters building in Ottobrunn, near Munich February 26, 2014. REUTERS/Michaela Rehle

SEATTLE (Reuters) - European planemaker Airbus aims to deliver the first A350 jetliner to launch customer Qatar Airways by mid-December, the airline said on Tuesday.

Gulf News quoted its chief executive Akbar Al Baker as saying the mid-sized jet would be delivered between Dec. 12 and 15‎ and appeared to rule out any last-minute hitches that might rattle investors in planemaker parent Airbus Group.

“Everything is perfect,” he said, according to the Dubai-based newspaper.

In the United States, a representative for the Gulf carrier said the aircraft would be delivered around Dec. 12.

The A350, Airbus’s newest plane and made with a carbon-fiber composite fuselage, is a direct competitor to Boeing’s composite 787 Dreamliner.

The long-range, twin-aisle plane received its certification by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration last week, after winning European safety approval in September.

The version of the jet certified by the FAA and European regulators, the A350-900, is designed to seat 314 passengers.

Airbus has booked 750 orders for the A350, including 549 for the A350-900 and 169 for the larger A350-1000, which is due to enter service in 2017. The smaller A350-800 has 32 orders but is likely to be phased out to make way for the revamped A330neo.

Airbus is planning a steep production increase, aiming to build three A350s per month by year-end, up from two a month currently. By the end of next year it plans to build five a month and to hit 10 a month by mid-2018.

Airbus originally targeted entry to service in 2012 when it re-launched the current design of the A350 at the Farnborough Airshow in July 2006.

It later slowed development, both to ensure its maturity and iron out problems including a glitch in wings production, but the schedule has been broadly stable for the past two years.

The plane’s successful test flight program, regulatory certification and impending first delivery have been well received by Airbus investors, helping shares rise more than 7 percent in the past month.

Reporting by Alwyn Scott; Editing by Diane Craft, Leslie Adler and James Dalgleish

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