Qatar Airways says A350 delivery on schedule; plans order in Dubai

Reuters

* Akbar Al Baker says A350 to be delivered in H2 2014

* CEO says will order more planes in Dubai

* Says not offered the Boeing 777X yet

DOHA, Oct 29 (Reuters) - Qatar Airways, the launch customerfor Airbus's A350 plane, expects the Europeanplanemaker to start delivering the aircraft by the second halfof next year, the airline's chief executive said on Tuesday.

The Gulf carrier has ordered 80 A350 jets from Airbus.

"We are confident that Airbus will deliver the A350 by thesecond half of 2014," Akbar al Baker said on the sidelines of anevent to mark the airline joining the oneworld airline alliance.

His comments were in line with Airbus's programme chiefDidier Evrard, who had said earlier that the aim was to deliverthe lightweight aircraft in the second half of 2014.

The A350, designed to compete with Boeing's 787Dreamliner and the larger Boeing 777, staged its maiden flightin June. The European planemaker now has two aircraft flying andhas notched up 75 flights and over 370 hours of flight tests.

By the end of the year, Airbus aims to freeze the design ofthe largest member of the A350 family, the 350-seat A350-1000.The aircraft is due to enter service in mid-2017, some threeyears ahead of a larger revamped version of Boeing's 777.

On Tuesday, Qatar Airways joined oneworld, an alliance whichincludes British Airways, as the Gulf carrier looks to expandits global reach through partnerships.

Its rival, Abu Dhabi's Etihad Airways, has forged severalcodeshare agreements with Skyteam member Air France,while Emirates has agreed to co-operate with Australia's Qantas.

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Qatar Airway's al-Baker said the airline would place anotherplane order during the Dubai Airshow next month, billed one ofthe largest industry events in the region.

"I won't tell you what the order is, but there will be one,"he said.

Qatar Airways is among several major carriers being courtedby Boeing as it finalises plans for a larger version ofits profitable 777 wide-body jet, which is expected to belaunched at the Dubai Airshow.

But al-Baker said last week the airline was not interestedin ordering the 777X wide-body jet.

"We don't know anything about the airplane. We can't justcompare with the size of aircraft. We are just waiting forBoeing to offer us the aircraft and to show us what the aircraftis going to do," he said.

Etihad is close to placing an order that could kick off a$50 billion jet-buying spree from the Gulf. It is expected tobuy 25-30 of the 777X jets and place a repeat order for its 787Dreamliner.

Al-Baker also said Qatar Airways was still interested inBombardier Inc's C-Series jetliner.

"We are still interested in the C-Series but only when wesee bigger orders to make sure its a sustainable programme,"said al-Baker.

He added the carrier would not buy anymore Airbus A380aircraft, adding it has 13 jets on order the first of whichwould be delivered in April.

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