Qatar Airways chief executive Akbar Al Baker remains confident that his airline will take delivery of its first Airbus A350 in the fourth quarter, and says he is “very satisfied” by the twinjet type’s performance in testing.

“I think it will be a fantastic aeroplane,” says Al Baker, who stresses that Qatar’s A350s are for replacement rather than growth. “They will eventually replace all of our A330s,” he says.

Qatar has a total of 80 A350s on order, split between the -900 and -1000 models.

Handover of the first, a -900, could take place “anywhere between October and December” this year, says Al Baker.

While the airline has earmarked New York as an A350 destination, that US city will not be the initial destination for the type, Al Baker indicates.

“The earlier aircraft will not go to New York, but eventually we will send the aircraft to New York,” he says.

An A350 is included among the four aircraft Qatar intends to bring to the Farnborough air show in July, alongside an A380, A320 and Boeing 787. “We want to occupy Farnborough!” says Al Baker.

Test airframe MSN4 will be displayed in a special livery highlighting Qatar’s status as the A350’s launch customer. “This was part of our purchase agreement, that they [Airbus] will brand one of the test aeroplanes,” says Al Baker.

Source: Cirium Dashboard