(Refile to add dropped word “Airlines” in paragraph ten)
By Hadeel Al Sayegh
DOHA, Jan 22 (Reuters) - The delivery of Qatar Airways’ first Airbus A350-1000 has been delayed until February due to the “complex seat configuration” of the airline’s business class, its chief executive said on Monday.
The major Middle East carrier is the launch customer of Europe’s largest twin-engined passenger jet and was scheduled to receive its first of 37 on order last year.
“We will be taking delivery of this aircraft next month,” Chief Executive Akbar al-Baker told a Doha press conference.
Baker said in August 2017 that the first A350-1000 would be delivered in the same year. On Monday, he said installing the ‘Qsuite’ business class was taking longer than expected and that the aircraft was still being fitted out in Toulouse, France, which is where Airbus is based.
Qatar Airways’ Qsuite, unveiled last year, features forward facing seats and lie-flat double beds.
The “complex seat configuration” has had implications on the certification of the aircraft, though the airline had taken ownership of the aircraft late last year, Baker said, without giving details.
An Airbus spokesman declined to comment, telling Reuters it was “the privilege of customers to make such announcements.”
Qatar Airways, which has a reputation as a demanding customer when reviewing aircraft for quality before delivery, has ordered 80 A350s, including smaller A350-900 jets, some of which are already operating in the airline’s fleet.
The A350-1000, the largest model, was launched to compete against Boeing’s 777s.
Baker also said Qatar Airways was not interested “at the moment” in buying stakes in Air India and Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), which the government of India and government of Pakistan are separately trying to privatise.
Qatar Airways owns minority stakes in British Airways-parent International Consolidated Airlines Group, South America’s LATAM Airlines Group SA, Asia’s Cathay Pacific, and Italy’s Meridiana. (Reporting by Hadeel Al Sayegh, writing by Alexander Cornwell, editing by Louise Heavens)