Qatar still keen on CSeries order

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Qatar Airways hopes to conclude an order with Bombardier for the CSeries in the near future, says chief executive Akbar Al Baker.

"CSeries is an aircraft of great interest to us," he said on the sidelines of the ceremony announcing Qatar's proposed entry into the Oneworld alliance in New York on 8 October. "We hope that in the not to distant future we will be sitting down with Bombardier and concluding a deal."

He said the airline was interested in the CSeries but had to delay negotiations due to being "very busy", in May.

Qatar is interested in the aircraft for both its own fleet and for that of its leasing company.

The Gulf carrier was expected to sign to become the CSeries launch operator two years ago, but Al Baker's concerns about the maintenance costs of the Pratt & Whitney PW1500G engines delayed a final decision.

Qatar subsequently ordered the Airbus A319neo, but insists that order has not lessened its interest in the CSeries. Last May, Al Baker said he would make a decision on the CSeries within six to 12 months, a timeframe that begins in November.

The CSeries is still scheduled to complete its first flight by the end of the year, but Bombardier executives say a minor delay of up to a few months is possible. Bombardier says first flight is a critical milestone for potential customers, exceeded in significance only by first delivery at the end of 2013.