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Qatar Airways now looks to Airbus


"The 787 should be an A330 killer but it is late," says Qatar Airways' CEO

May 7, 2013 11:02 by

Qatar Airways is in talks with Airbus to buy up to 15 of the European planemaker’s A330 passenger jets, a deal potentially worth $3.6 billion at list prices, citing production delays to Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner aircraft.

“We are talking to Airbus about A330s to fill in the gap that the Dreamliner delays have caused Qatar Airways … Anywhere between 10 and 15 (aircraft),” Chief Executive Akbar al Baker told Reuters on Monday.

“It’s a new order,” he said, adding the deal would be finalised by June’s Paris Air Show.

Qatar is among airlines expecting to receive compensation for delays to the delivery schedule for the 787 caused by a series of production snags, and for the grounding in January of Dreamliners already delivered due to battery faults.

Baker said at a press conference in Dubai on Monday that the airline had to forego $200 million in revenue up until April 2013 because of the grounding. It expects to have all five of its Dreamliners which were delivered before the grounding back in service with modified batteries before the end of May.

“We have already spoken to them. We are done,” he said on the topic of compensation, declining to provide further details.

Airbus is benefiting from a revival in sales of the A330 since the 787 encountered production delays even though Boeing plans to bring out a new 320-seat stretched 787 that it believes will eclipse the A330’s appeal.

“The 787 should be an A330 killer but it is late and the penalty payments (from Boeing to airlines) are coming straight to Airbus in the form of new A330 sales,” said an aerospace analyst at the Teal Group consultancy in a recent interview.

Boeing is looking for a prominent customer like Qatar to launch the stretched Dreamliner, code-named 787-10X, which it believes will appeal to airlines that do not need the range of other new jets but want the lower fuel costs of the 787’s lightweight design.

Analysts say Airbus has breathed new life into the A330 by playing up its availability and reliability, while discounting the price to ensure total ownership costs come in below the 787.

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