(Adds Airbus comment)
By Tom Finn
DOHA Dec 12 Qatar Airways is in talks with
Airbus to convert its order for up to 80 A320neos to
the larger A321neo, its chief executive said on Monday.
The airline has refused to accept four A320neos so far this
year over performance issues with the aircraft's engines, a
spokeswoman told Reuters.
"We are in negotiations with Airbus about how we can
continue our relationship and keep our order on track minus the
ones that we cancelled," CEO Akbar al-Baker told Reuters on the
sidelines of a news conference in Doha.
He said the airline wanted to take delivery of the larger
A321neo jets from 2018 and was considering swapping the engine
order to CFM, a joint venture between General Electric Co
and Safran SA of France.
An Airbus spokesman declined to comment when contacted by
Qatar Airways has refused to accept planes with engines made
by Pratt & Whitney, a unit of United Technologies Corp,
saying they required additional time to start under certain
The airline said in May it was cutting frequencies on more
than a dozen routes from its Doha hub because of delivery delays
of new aircraft from Airbus.
Qatar Airways announced on Oct. 7 an order for as much as
$18.6 billion worth of Boeing jets, including a letter of
intent for 60 narrow-body 737 MAX 8 jets valued at $6.9 billion.
The A320 and 737 compete in the largest segment of the
At least some of those 737 MAXs will go to Italy's
Meridiana, with which Qatar Airways is talking about taking a 49
percent stake, Al Baker said.
Italy's second biggest airline would have "nearly 50
aircraft" within the first five years of Qatar Airways' stake
purchase, he said. The fleet would be a mix of either Airbus or
Boeing wide body jets and 737s.
Al-Baker told Bloomberg on Nov. 6 that he expected to
finalise the stake purchase in January. The deal is dependent on
a number of unspecified conditions being met.
(Writing by Alexander Cornwell; editing by Mark Potter and