Qatar Airways says it may switch part of A350 order to biggest model

Airbus Chief Operating Officer President Fabrice Bregier and Qatar Airways Chief Executive Akbar Al-Baker hold a scale model of a Qatar Airways Airbus A350-1000 during a news conference. (REUTERS)
Updated 20 February 2018
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Qatar Airways says it may switch part of A350 order to biggest model

TOULOUSE: Airbus got a boost for its largest twin-engined jet on Tuesday when Qatar Airways said it was considering upgrading some of its A350 orders to the largest model as it took delivery of the first such plane.
The A350-1000 is designed to seat 366 people and competes head-to-head with Boeing’s profitable 777. The first A350-1000 was handed over to the Gulf carrier on Tuesday, joining the smaller A350-900, which has been in service for three years.
Airbus says the lightweight A350-1000 is 25 percent more efficient than the most popular current version of the 777, the 777-300ER.
But sales of the 777-300ER have picked up, and Boeing is working on plans to leapfrog the A350-1000 with an upgraded 777X boasting over 400 seats.
Boeing last year sold 32 777-300ERs against just one order for the A350-1000. Some airlines have begun downgrading some A350-1000 orders to the 325-seat A350-900.
Qatar Airways, which has ordered both the A350-1000 and the 777X, indicated it was moving in the opposite direction and said it could shift more of its A350 orders to the largest model.
“There is a possibility that we could convert some of the 900s to the 1000,” Chief Executive Akbar Al Baker said.
Qatar is the top A350 customer with 76 on order, including 37 A350-1000s, which have a list price of $367 million.
It recently canceled four A350-900 orders following delays, but subsequently re-committed to the new European jet family.

NO NEW A350 MODEL
The prospect of upgrades will come as a relief to Airbus, which is gambling on the A350-1000 to contain any market pressure from the 777 as Boeing develops its new model.
Last summer, the European planemaker shelved tentative plans for an even bigger A350 that would compete more directly with Boeing’s planned 777X.
Fabrice Bregier, speaking on his last day as Airbus chief operating officer, said on Tuesday studies had shown the idea worked in principle, but that Airbus would focus instead on pushing the A350-1000.
“It’s now time to start to be more aggressive and to explain to our customers, or Boeing’s customers, that this aircraft will be a better choice than a 777-9X,” Bregier said.
Boeing insists that its jet will be the world’s most efficient aircraft in its category, thanks to new wings.
Baker said Qatar Airways, one of the world’s major fleet buyers, is not interested in an ultra-long-haul version of the A350-900 being floated by Airbus for carriers like Qantas but could buy more of regular A350 jets.
“Yes, there may in future be a requirement for more of these airplanes for Qatar Airways, especially when we do further enhancements of our acquisitions,” he said.
“And of course there is a probability we will buy more of these airplanes to put in our leasing company.”
He also ruled out orders for the largest and smallest Airbus jets — whether the 544-seat A380, of which it has bought 10 and has options for another three, or the Bombardier CSeries, a 110 to 130-seater that Airbus agreed to rescue last year.


US unveils new veto threat against WTO rulings

Updated 23 June 2018
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US unveils new veto threat against WTO rulings

  • US tells WTO appeals rulings in trade disputes could be vetoed if they took longer than the allowed 90 days
  • Trump, who has railed against the WTO judges in the past, threatens to levy a 20 percent import tax on European Union cars

GENEVA: The United States ramped up its challenge to the global trading system on Friday, telling the World Trade Organization that appeals rulings in trade disputes could be vetoed if they took longer than the allowed 90 days.
The statement by US Ambassador Dennis Shea threatened to erode a key element of trade enforcement at the 23-year-old WTO: binding dispute settlement, which is widely seen as a major bulwark against protectionism.
It came as US President Donald Trump, who has railed against the WTO judges in the past, threatened to levy a 20 percent import tax on European Union cars, the latest in an unprecedented campaign of threats and tariffs to punish US trading partners.
Shea told the WTO’s dispute settlement body that rulings by the WTO’s Appellate Body, effectively the supreme court of world trade, were invalid if they took too long. Rulings would no longer be governed by “reverse consensus,” whereby they are blocked only if all WTO members oppose them.
“The consequence of the Appellate Body choosing to breach (WTO dispute) rules and issue a report after the 90-day deadline would be that this report no longer qualifies as an Appellate Body report for purposes of the exceptional negative consensus adoption procedure,” Shea said, according to a copy of his remarks provided to Reuters.
An official who attended the meeting said other WTO members agreed that the Appellate Body should stick to the rules, but none supported Shea’s view that late rulings could be vetoed, and many expressed concern about his remarks.
Rulings are routinely late because, the WTO says, disputes are abundant and complex. Things have slowed further because Trump is blocking new judicial appointments, increasing the remaining judges’ already bulging workload.
At Friday’s meeting the United States maintained its opposition to the appointment of judges, effectively signalling a veto of one judge hoping for reappointment to the seven-seat bench in September.
Without him, the Appellate Body will only have three judges, the minimum required for every dispute, putting the system at severe risk of breakdown if any of the three judges cannot work on a case for legal or other reasons.
“Left unaddressed, these challenges can cripple, paralyze, or even extinguish the system,” chief judge Ujal Singh Bhatia said.
Sixty-six WTO member states are backing a petition that asks the United States to allow appointments to go ahead. On Friday, US ally Japan endorsed the petition for the first time, meaning that all the major users of the dispute system were united in opposition to Trump.