Qatar still considering A320neo, but wants performance data

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Qatar Airways is keeping Airbus guessing about whether it will sign for the A320neo, saying it is still waiting for definitive data to validate performance claims. Qatar Airways chief executive Akbar Al Baker says it is still considering an order for the upgraded twinjet, despite his criticism of the re-engining strategy.

Al Baker is frustrated by Airbus's failure, so far, to provide detailed performance information. "We need to have performance guarantees to know what the A320neo will do - and Airbus has still not provided this information," he says.

"What will the fuel burn be? What will the economics be? We need this information to put into our models to decide if this aircraft will be as good as Airbus claims on paper, or whether it will be just a dressed-up A320," he adds. Al Baker hopes to reach a decision by the Paris air show in June, along with a potential deal for the Pratt & Whitney PW1000G-powered Bombardier CSeries. The P&W engine is offered on the A320neo, along with CFM International's Leap-X. P&W is a partner on the International Aero Engines V2500 fitted to Qatar's A320s.

"We still have a long way to go to the air show - we have three months to finalise everything," Al Baker says. "We are considering both, because each aircraft does a particular mission."

Al Baker says Bombardier has provided Qatar Airways with detailed performance information on CSeries because its development is far further advanced.

"And because we are part of the study to acquire the CSeries, we have more engine data [on the PW1000G] available to us than Airbus is providing to the people signing MoUs for A320-neos," he adds.