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Airbus pledges A380 wing fixes 'in weeks' as Qatar defers deliveries
It would certainly have been one of the more interesting head-to-head presentations of the recently passed Arabian Travel Market had it occurred: Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker and Habib Fekih, President of Airbus Middle East.
As it happens, we had to settle for separate appearances and comments relating to the ongoing A380 wing cracks maintenance issue.
First up in the seminar theatre was Al Baker, who said it is scheduled to get its first A380 in October next year "but we will have to defer deliveries until we have a clear picture of the wings". Further comments relating to the potential of Chinese and Russian manufacturers were also designed to remove any complacency among Airbus and Boeing executives (click here) - even though the airline is spending more than $50 billion on A350s, A320neos, A380s and B787s - with the first of the Dreamliners due to enter service this summer between Doha and London Heathrow.
Speaking a day later, Fekih shed some more light on the wings issue, without providing full clarity.
He said it was a production and maintenance issue "and not at all a safety issue", adding that it will be introducing what he described as a "fine fix" in a few weeks. He wouldn't be drawn in a question-and-answer session to elaborate on the situation with the Doha carrier, only saying it discusses the same issues with all its customers.
During last year's Dubai Airshow, Qatar Airways placed orders for eight additional A380s, raising its superjumbo order book to 13.
Two months ago, Emirates, the world's largest operator of A380s, said it expected to lose at least $90 million in revenues through the grounding of its A380s (click here).
Report by Dominic Ellis