(Recasts; adds Boeing comment)
By Tim Hepher
PARIS Jan 12 Qatar Airways said on Thursday it
was seeking guarantees from a potential new engine supplier
after delays to Airbus jet deliveries, but said Boeing was ahead
of schedule on its latest version of the 777, leaving scope to
bring those jets forward.
The comments from one of the industry's toughest buyers
reflect the stakes involved in meeting manufacturing targets for
large aerospace industry orders after a series of costly delays.
Qatar Airways remains in talks with CFM International about
supplying engines for an upgraded order for Airbus Group's
A321neo medium-haul jets, which it expects to finalise
"soon", Chief Executive Akbar Al Baker told Reuters.
The carrier has cancelled four A320neo jets powered by
delayed engines made by Pratt & Whitney, a unit of United
Technologies, and plans to swap the overall aircraft
order, which originally covered 50 jets, to the larger A321neo.
CFM, owned by General Electric and France's Safran
, competes with Pratt & Whitney to power Airbus'
Al Baker acknowledged Qatar had received competitive launch
prices when it originally ordered Pratt & Whitney engines, but
said a decision on whether to keep those or switch to CFM for
the upgraded A321neo order would depend on other guarantees.
"It is a factor, but what we decide will be based on what
sort of guarantees we get on deliveries and at the same time
performance," he said in an interview.
Qatar plans to take delivery of around 10 Airbus A350s and 6
Boeing 777s this year. It will also receive some Boeing 737s on
behalf of Italy's Meridiana, in which it aims to buy 49 percent.
Qatar is also one of the launch customers for the newest
Boeing long-haul jet, the 777-9, formerly code-named 777-9X.
Boeing plans to deliver the 406-seat jet from 2020, but
aviation news site FlightGlobal reported last year it could
advance deliveries to late 2019 due to spare cushion in the
"We have already told Boeing that as they are bringing ahead
the (777-)9X deliveries, we would be interested. The 777-9X
programme is ahead of schedule and we have no problem if they
want to bring our deliveries ahead," Al Baker said.
A Boeing spokesman said: "Development of the 777X programme
is progressing to plan and we will deliver to the schedule we
committed to our airline customers."
Al Baker was speaking after opening a 1,000-square-metre
lounge at Paris' Charles de Gaulle Airport, the airline's third
such facility abroad after London Heathrow and Dubai.
It is also building lounges in Beirut and Bangkok and
negotiating space in seven other airports.
The expansion comes as Gulf airlines have seen premium
yields suffering due to low oil prices and rising capacity.
Qatar Airways plans to unveil a new premium cabin in March
and is investing an unspecified amount to attract passengers
"with the right yield," Al Baker said.
But he suggested fuel surcharges may soon be back on the
"(Qatar Airways) had to lower (prices in 2016) because oil
prices were going down, but now we are starting to put prices up
because oil prices are starting to go up," he said.
"Soon, I think not only Qatar Airways but most of the
airlines will re-introduce the fuel surcharges because they
budgeted on lower fuel price and prices are now rising rapidly."
Oil prices have risen 20 percent in three months.
Al Baker said the airline had not seen traffic to France
fall after recent attacks. The carrier plans to serve Nice five
times per week from July and expects to announce a similar
service to Lyon soon.
It also continues to experience double-digit growth in
passenger numbers, Al Baker added.
(Reporting by Tim Hepher; editing by Sudip Kar-Gupta, Mark
Potter and G Crosse)