Qatar Airways’ first Airbus A350-900 has finally arrived at its home base – a week or so later than originally planned – after departing Toulouse in the company of the airline’s fourth A380.
The 23 December ferry flight from Toulouse was originally scheduled on 13 December, but was postponed after a last-minute hitch during the airline’s acceptance process in Toulouse.
It was not the first time that Qatar’s outspoken boss Akbar Al Baker has forced Airbus delivery ceremony arrangements to be postponed. The planned simultaneous handover of the airline’s first three A380s was delayed from June to September after issues during acceptance.
“My friend Akbar, you are a tough customer. You are very demanding and sometimes perhaps a little bit demanding,” joked Airbus chief executive Fabrice Bregier at the 22 December ceremony in Toulouse. “But first of all you were one of the architects of the new A350 XWB. So without these demands, we would not have the best aircraft in this category.”
Al Baker was quick to play down the delay, saying that the hold-up had nothing to do with Airbus.
“Until two days ago, we were having a lot of arguments that Qatar Airways’ quality requirements had nothing to do with Airbus, and [A350 programme chief] Didier Evrard was trying to convince me that it was my BFE [buyer-furnished equipment] suppliers that were to blame,” he said.
“We had small issues with our BFE suppliers which were resolved by them. The delay was nothing to do with Airbus.”
Al Baker emphasised that despite the slip, the airline’s first A350 was delivered “one week before schedule” as Airbus’s commitment was for a handover before 31 December.
Qatar Airways expects to receive eight more of the 37 A350-900s it has on order by the end of 2015. The airline plans to debut the type on its Doha-Frankfurt route on 15 January.