PARIS 2009: Qatar sternly warns Boeing to resolve 787 delay

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Qatar Airways chief executive Akbar Al Baker has warned Boeing that the airline could "walk away" from its 60-order 787 contract if the airframer does not quickly resolve major issues over delivery delays.

"We at Qatar Airways have some serious issues with Boeing and if they do not play ball with us they will be in for a very, very serious surprise if we do not settle the issues on the 787," says Al Baker.

The Doha-based carrier is a major Boeing customer, with an orderbook for over 92 aircraft including 32 777s and 60 787s. However, the 787 programme delays have pushed back the airline's deliveries by around 18 months, with its first aircraft is not now due to arrive until late 2011.

While he is unspecific about the nature of the issues, Al Baker says that Boeing is not dealing with them "in a professional manner, and Qatar Airways is very impatient with them".

He adds that the airline has the right to "walk away" from the deal if "the delay is unreasonable", adding: "There are excusable delays in our contract and if these delays get escalated, every organisation gets the right to walk away."

Speaking more generally about Boeing's evaluation of various ways to respond to the Airbus A350-1000 - for which Qatar Airways holds 20 orders - Al Baker says he believes Boeing is "doing things too late".

"Unfortunately Boeing is not run by commercially-minded people," says Al Baker. "It is being run by bean counters and lawyers and if they continue this way they will give an even bigger advantage to Airbus."

In response to Al Baker's comments, Boeing says it is "making good progress with the 787 programme and are very close to flying the aircraft for the first time".

It adds: "We are working closely with each of our customers and we are confident of the value this airplane will bring to airlines and passengers around the world."