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.


China says hard to proceed on trade with US putting ‘knife to its neck’

Updated 18 min 4 sec ago
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China says hard to proceed on trade with US putting ‘knife to its neck’

  • When the talks can restart would depend on the ‘will’ of the US, senior Chinese commerce official says
  • Several rounds of Sino-US talks in recent months have appeared to produce no breakthroughs
BEIJING: A senior Chinese official said on Tuesday that it is difficult to proceed with trade talks with the US while Washington is putting “a knife to China’s neck,” a day after both sides heaped fresh tariffs on each other’s goods.
When the talks can restart would depend on the “will” of the US, Vice Commerce Minister Wang Shouwen said at a news conference.
US tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods and retaliatory taxes by Beijing on $60 billion worth of US products including liquefied natural gas (LNG) kicked in on Monday as the trade dispute between the world’s two biggest economies escalated, unnerving global financial markets.
China also accused the US of engaging in “trade bullyism,” and said Washington was intimidating other countries to submit to its will, according to a white paper on the dispute published by China’s State Council, or cabinet, on Monday.
“The sharp criticism (from Beijing on Monday) suggests that China might prefer to wait out the current US administration, rather than embarking on potentially futile negotiations,” Mizuho Bank said in a note to clients.
“Given these developments, it is increasingly likely that both sides will not resume negotiations for some time, at least until there is a noticeable shift in the political mood on either side.”
Several rounds of Sino-US talks in recent months have appeared to produce no breakthroughs and fresh negotiations which had been expected in coming weeks have been canceled after Beijing reportedly decided late last week not to send a delegation to Washington.
One cannot say that all previous trade discussions have been useless, but the US has abandoned its mutual understanding with China, Wang said.
China does not know why the US has changed its mind after reaching an agreement with China on trade earlier, Wang said, apparently referring to talks in May when it appeared briefly that a framework was being sorted out.
US exporters including LNG suppliers would “certainly” be hurt, but Beijing’s retaliation would provide opportunities to other LNG-exporting countries, Wang said, adding that Australia is an important source of the fuel for China.
“China is a big and powerful nation, so whether it is a confrontation with China economically or militarily, it would come at a huge price,” the state-backed Global Times wrote in an editorial on Tuesday.
“As such, it is an attractive prospect for other countries including the US to coexist with China peacefully,” said the newspaper, which is published by the ruling Communist Party’s People’s Daily.