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Al Baker expects A350s to be on schedule

Qatar Airways chief executive Akbar Al Baker has suggested that the carrier may increase its order for 80 Airbus A350s, after taking delivery of its first of the type before the end of the year.

"We may well have some additional surprises," he said at a press conference in Hamburg on 16 September, where he was taking delivery of his carrier's first A380.

Al Baker also reiterated that he expects Qatar Airways' first A350-900, which will be flown on the Doha-New York route, to be delivered on schedule by December. "Qatar has been working on this very proactively with Airbus," he said.

He also confirmed that the carrier has "asked Airbus to give us a proposal" for a possible A330neo order for its recently-set up Saudi Arabian subsidiary Al Maha Airways.

Al Maha is due to launch operations at the end of this year, initially with a fleet of Airbus A320s and with a target of 30 aircraft within three years.

Al Baker said he would have bought A330neos for the mainline Qatar Airways operation had the Rolls-Royce Trent 7000-powered type - launched at Farnborough in July - been "offered five or six years ago". These would have been chosen instead of the A350-800, although Al Baker did not say whether they would have also displaced Boeing 787s, which he said fulfill a similar role to the A330neo. "We would have had an A330neo and A350 mix," he said.

Airbus chief executive Fabrice Bregier confirmed at the press conference that development of the A350-800 has been "cancelled."

The death warrant for the smallest variant of the widebody, which had been losing orders as customers switched to the -900 and -1000, was as good as signed when the A330neo was launched.

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