Qatar Airways upgrades Airbus A350 order

Updated 04 December 2012

Qatar Airways upgrades Airbus A350 order

LONDON: Qatar Airways has upgraded an order for Airbus A350 aircraft to larger variants, a move that includes new backing for a model designed to compete with Boeing Co’s mini-jumbo.
The European planemaker, part of EADS, announced the move as the airline said it preferred the two largest models of A350 for its business model, confirming a trend toward more seats to cope with regular increases in passenger traffic.
The A350 comes in three models — the two smallest compete with Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner while the largest, the 350-seat A350-1000, aims for a crucial niche dominated by the 777.
Many experts see the lucrative market for jets just below 400 seats as the next major battleground between the world’s top planemakers. Boeing is looking at revamping its 777 design.
Airbus said Qatar Airways had upgraded its order for the largest A350-1000 variant to 37 planes from 20 and increased its order for the base model, the A350-900, by three planes to 43, confirming what aviation sources had previously told Reuters.
However these are not net new orders, since the same airline has scrapped an order for the A350-800, the smallest variant which faces speculation about its future due to weak sales.
The upgraded order will net Airbus an extra $ 2.8 billion at list prices. In volume, Qatar’s A350 order remain at 80 units.
Qatar Airways is the launch customer for the future A350 and is also a major user of the 777, Boeing’s most profitable plane.
Airbus said separately it had won approval from European authorities to deploy drag-reducing wingtip devices that will allow airlines to cut fuel bills by more than it had expected.
The so-called sharklets, which are made from composite materials and are 2.4 meters tall, are upward-slanting wingtips designed to help narrowbody A320 aircraft fly further on the same amount of fuel.
“The certification of Airbus’ sharklets is a milestone which paves the way for airlines to benefit from savings in fuel of around 4 percent,” Tom Williams, executive vice president of programs at Airbus, said in a statement. “That’s better than we’d anticipated.”
Airbus had previously targeted a net fuel saving of 3.5 percent with the devices, part of a package of improvements that together with new engines are designed to save airlines about 15 percent in fuel bills on the future revamped A320neo plane.

The approval applies to Airbus’ A320 family of planes powered by CFM56 engines from CFM International, a venture between General Electric and France’s Safran.
Airbus has also been testing the sharklets on A320s powered by International Aero Engines’ V2500 engine.
Airbus and Boeing are focusing on wing enhancements as key selling points for their latest revamped models, with tens of billions of dollars of sales for both firms at stake each year.


Powell: No clear hint on rates but says Fed will aid economy

Updated 23 August 2019

Powell: No clear hint on rates but says Fed will aid economy

  • The outlook for the US economy, Powell said, remains favorable but continues to face risks
  • Trump, who has relentlessly attacked Powell and the Fed over its rate policies, kept up his verbal assaults on Twitter

WASHINGTON: Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell sent no clear signal Friday that the Fed will further cut interest rates this year but said it would “act as appropriate” to sustain the expansion — phrasing that analysts see as suggesting rate cuts.
Powell said President Donald Trump’s trade wars have complicated the Fed’s ability to set interest rates and have contributed to a global economic slowdown.
Speaking to a gathering of central bankers in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, Powell didn’t give financial markets explicit guidance on whether or how many rate cuts might be coming the rest of the year. The Fed cut rates last month for the first time in a decade, and financial markets have baked in the likelihood of more rate cuts this year.
The outlook for the US economy, Powell said, remains favorable but continues to face risks. He pointed to increasing evidence of a global economic slowdown and suggested that uncertainty from Trump’s trade wars has contributed to it.
Reacting to the speech Friday, Trump, who has relentlessly attacked Powell and the Fed over its rate policies, kept up his verbal assaults on Twitter:
“As usual, the Fed did NOTHING!” Trump tweeted. “It is incredible that they can ‘speak’without knowing or asking what I am doing, which will be announced shortly. We have a very strong dollar and a very weak Fed. I will work “brilliantly” with both, and the US will do great.”
Trump added:
“My only question is, who is our bigger enemy, Jay Powel (sic) or Chairman Xi?“
Powell’s speech comes against the backdrop of a vulnerable economy, with the financial world seeking clarity on whether last month’s rate decision likely marked the start of a period of easier credit.
The confusion only heightened in the days leading to the Jackson Hole conference, at which Powell gave the keynote address. Minutes of the Fed’s July meeting released Wednesday showed that although officials voted 8-2 to cut their benchmark rate by a quarter-point, there was a wider divergence of opinion on the committee than the two dissenting votes against the rate cut had indicated.
The minutes showed that two Fed officials favored a more aggressive half-point rate cut, while some others adopted the polar opposite view: They felt the Fed shouldn’t cut rates at all.
The minutes depicted the rate cut as a “mid-cycle adjustment,” the phrase Powell had used at his news conference after the rate cut. That wording upset traders who interpreted the remark as suggesting that the Fed might not be preparing for a series of rate cuts to support an economy that’s struggling with a global slowdown and escalating uncertainty from President Donald Trump’s trade war with China.
There was even a difference of opinion among the Fed members who favored a rate cut, the minutes showed, with some concerned most about subpar inflation and others worried more about the threats to economic growth.
Comments Thursday from Fed officials gathering in Jackson Hole reflected the committee’s sharp divisions, including some reluctance to cut rates at least until the economic picture changes.
“I think we should stay here for a while and see how things play out,” said Patrick Harker, the president of the Fed’s Philadelphia regional bank.
Esther George, president of the Fed’s Kansas City regional bank and one of the dissenting votes in July, said, “While I see downside risk, I wasn’t ready to act on that relative to the performance of the economy.”
George said she saw some areas of strength, including very low unemployment and inflation now closer to the Fed’s target level. She said her decision on a possible future rate cut would depend on forthcoming data releases.
Robert Kaplan, president of the Fed’s Dallas branch indicated that he might be prepared to support further rate cuts.
If “we are seeing some weakness in manufacturing and global growth, then it may be good to take some action,” Kaplan said.
George was interviewed on Fox Business Network; Harker and Kaplan spoke on CNBC.
The CME Group, which tracks investor bets on central bank policy, is projecting the likelihood that the Fed will cut rates at least twice more before year’s end.
Adding to the pressures on the Fed, Trump has kept up his attacks on the central bank and on Powell personally, arguing that Fed officials have kept rates too high and should be cutting them aggressively.
Trump has argued that a full percentage-point rate reduction in coming months would be appropriate — a suggestion that most economists consider extravagantly excessive as well as an improper intrusion on the Fed’s political independence.
The president contends that lower rates in other countries have caused the dollar to rise in value and thereby hurt US export sales.
“Our Federal Reserve does not allow us to do what we must do,” Trump tweeted Thursday. “They put us at a disadvantage against our competition.”
Earlier in the week, he had told reporters, “If the Fed would do its job, you would see a burst of growth like you have never seen before.”
Powell has insisted that the White House criticism has had no effect on the Fed’s deliberations over interest rate policy.