Qatar Airways Ltd. will receive an upgraded version of Airbus SAS’s A380 superjumbo after refusing to take jets with wing faults requiring modifications later, Chief Executive Officer Akbar Al Baker said.
“Qatar Air insisted that Airbus provide us with the new, certified wing for the A380 and Airbus has kindly obliged,” Al Baker said today at the Farnborough air show. “We will receive the A380 with the new wing which will not require modification.”
The second-biggest Middle East carrier will take its first A380 in January 2014, the CEO said. Toulouse, France-based Airbus had said previously that all examples delivered through the beginning of 2014 would suffer from the wing-rib defect and require both short-term fixes should cracks develop and a permanent repair later that can take eight weeks per plane.
The European Aviation Safety Agency, the region’s flight- safety regulator, said July 5 that its final approval for a redesign of the wing would come by the end of this year.
Qatar Air will give Airbus “the benefit of the doubt” over the largest version of its A350 wide-body plane, which the carrier has previously suggested might fail to measure up to the required performance criteria, Al Baker said.
“They have been very forthcoming,” he said. “They have been listening to us and I think they’ll get things right.”
The Doha-based airline posted a profit of $206 million in the year ended March 31, the CEO said, adding that while earnings may be lower this year it will remain profitable even as economies slow.
“We have no decline in passenger numbers, quite the contrary,” the executive said, adding that his expansion plans are being frustrated by the inability of manufacturers to further accelerate deliveries.
Qatar Air last year took a 35 percent stake in Cargolux Airlines International SA, Europe’s biggest freight-only carrier, and is interested in any further opportunities to expand its “footprint,” Al Baker said.
The Gulf carrier, which competes locally with Dubai-based Emirates, the largest international airline, and Abu Dhabi-based Etihad, serves a network of 117 destinations and plans to announce a further batch of new routes in coming weeks, he said.
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