negotiations to buy the are on hold as the airline deals with other expansion issues.
“We are very busy [and] have our hands full,” Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker said during the EBACE business aviation show in Geneva, pointing to fielding plans for the, , and . As a result “we have, at the moment, delayed our further negotiations for the CSeries.” However, he says he remains interested in the CSeries, Bombardier’s narrowbody. The negotiations could resume in 6-12 months, he notes.
Al Baker sees the CSeries in use for both the airline and to support Qatar’s leasing arm. “We want to be a major player in the aircraft leasing business.” Qatar’s leasing arm has a fleet of 35 aircraft, all operated by the airline, but in the next 12-18 months some of the aircraft exiting Qatar Airways service will be made available for lease to others.
Furthermore, Qatar Airways, in July, will take delivery of its first787, which will fly daily at the Farnborough air show. The aircraft will then return to Boeing to install the connectivity elements for high-speed internet service, before commencing revenue service on the Doha-London route in August.
Meanwhile, Al Baker notes he has informed Airbus the airline will take its Airbus A380s – due for delivery starting in October 2013 – only once a permanent fix has been developed and installed to deal with wing component cracks that emerged in recent months. “We don’t want an aircraft with an interim solution,” he says. Airbus is near developing the so called final fix and, Al Baker says, he has received a commitment his A380s will be fixed before delivery.
The airline CEO also is closely monitoring Airbus’s design progress on the A350-1000. Al Baker was unhappy when the aircraft maker revised its program plan, delaying service entry on the promise of delivering a more capable aircraft. For now, Al Baker says he remains committed to the program, but wants to see how range and payload performance develops once the design is frozen. If the aircraft maker fails to meet performance guarantees, the decision to acquire the aircraft could be reversed, he suggests.
Al Baker’s comments come as the airline struck a deal with Bombardier’s Flexjet to offer connections in North America to allow passengers arriving at Qatar Airways destinations in New York, Washington, Houston, and Montreal to fly on to other locations. The deal has long been in the works, Al Baker says, and has been delayed by tough negotiations. The deal is not linked to Qatar Airways’s inability to secure more landing slots in Canada, he insists. “No other airline in the Gulf or Middle East offers such a service in North America.”