Qatar Air Says Boeing 787 Delay Affects Expansion

January 11, 2009

State-owned Qatar Airways is in talks to revise delivery of Boeing's 787 Dreamliner jet and is seeking compensation after the manufacturer's latest delay affected the airline's expansion.

Ali al-Rais, the airline's executive vice-president, commercial, said no new delivery deadline has been set yet.

"They already know they have been at fault," he told reporters in Dubai. "They know that the standard clause will kick in."

Qatar Airways, which has a fleet of more than 60 planes and has been expanding rapidly, has about 200 planes on order including 30 787s.

Boeing pushed back the schedule for its troubled 787 Dreamliner for the fourth time last December, making its new plane almost two years late. Qatar had originally expected a 12-month delay.

"We have not banked totally on the 787 and do have an agreement with Airbus... We will not be hassling our supplier, there is compensation and we are discussing the schedule."

Rais declined to say how much the airline would receive in compensation.

More than 50 airlines are waiting for 892 Boeing 787s, worth a combined USD$145 billion at list prices. The 787 has been held up as the US plane maker makes slow progress on assembling planes and struggles with other delays.

On Sunday, Rais told reporters the carrier expected to receive its A380 orders by 2011 to coincide with the opening of a new airport. The airline has ordered five of the world's largest passenger plane from Airbus.

Qatar Airways, which begins flights to Houston on March 30 to tap into the US energy hub's close links with the world's largest exporter of liquefied natural gas, expects to receive at least 12 Boeing 777s in 2009, Rais said.

Rais said it had become a "tougher market" for financing, but the airline had sovereign guarantees and a consortium of banks that were supporting it.

In December, the carrier, which is looking to expand to at least 120 destinations from 83 at present within five years, raised USD$500 million to purchase three Boeing 777s.

The airline is looking at passenger growth of 35 percent this year despite the global financial crisis as it looks to focus its expansion into Asia, Africa and the Middle East.

"There has been a drop in Europe, but we still have the rest of the world... we are able to redesign our strategy," Rais said.

Rais said the airline has not bid for Greece's loss-making state-owned Olympic Airlines and was not looking to expand through acquisitions.

"We have never been interested in taking any other airline or any other ventures," he said. "We never bid for it... our focus is Qatar Airways."

Greece said last year Qatar Airways was among companies that had expressed an interest in buying Olympic.

AirWise © Ascent Pacific 2009

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