Airbus suffers last-minute A350 delay as Qatar pulls handover

  • An Airbus A350 on its assembly line at the Airbus headquarters in Toulouse, southwestern France.

    An Airbus A350 on its assembly line at the Airbus headquarters in Toulouse, southwestern France. Associated Press

 
Bloomberg News
Updated 12/10/2014 8:54 AM

Chicago-based Boeing rival Airbus Group NV, which prided itself in keeping to the development schedule on its new A350, suffered an embarrassing last-minute delay when launch customer Qatar Airways Ltd. halted a handover planned for this week.

"Qatar Airways announces that the Airbus A350 aircraft ceremonial transfer of title has been postponed until further notice," the airline said in a statement today, without providing a reason. "With the imminent launch of the new Airbus A350 program, both entities are committed to introducing the A350 very soon."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The surprise hold-up repeats a delay that Airbus suffered with the handover of the first A380 superjumbo to Qatar this year, after the airline's chief executive officer, Akbar Al Baker, said the aircraft didn't meet his specifications. Al Baker is notorious in the industry for his public grilling of Airbus and Boeing Co. executives, underscoring the rising role of Middle East customers who have placed major aircraft orders.

The aircraft had originally been set for handover to Qatar on Saturday, Dec. 13, followed by its flight to Doha. The two sides then scheduled a pre-delivery ceremony for Friday, before the handover was scrapped altogether.

The A350 is Airbus's response to Boeing's 787 Dreamliner and the larger 777 wide-body, coming in a mid-sized and stretched configuration. The twin-engine model is made largely of composite materials that are lighter and save fuel. Rolls- Royce Holdings Plc is the exclusive engine provider.

Airbus erased earlier gains of as much as 1.6 percent and traded up 0.3 percent at 48.34 euros as of 1:18 p.m. The stock has lost 13 percent in value this year, putting it on track for its worst annual return since 2008.

To contact the reporter on this story: Andrea Rothman in Toulouse at aerothmanbloomberg.net To contact the editors responsible for this story: Benedikt Kammel at bkammelbloomberg.net Christopher Jasper

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