Qatar Airways upgrades Airbus A350 order

Updated 04 December 2012
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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.


Dubai schools allowed to raise fees after last year’s freeze hit GEMS listing

Updated 13 min 25 sec ago
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Dubai schools allowed to raise fees after last year’s freeze hit GEMS listing

  • UAE authorities fixed the fees in hopes of stimulating the economy
  • The maximum increase for next year will be 2.07 percent for 90 percent of the schools

DUBAI: Dubai will allow a modest increase in school fees for the majority of students in the 2019-2020 academic year, the government said, after last year’s freeze triggered a delay in the London listing of a major school operator.
The move is likely to provide some reprieve for private investors such as private equity firms, who own most of the schools in the country, a Gulf Arab state that acts as a Middle East hub for international companies.
Last year’s move to freeze Dubai school had hit the initial public offering of Blackstone-backed, Middle East-focused education company GEMS, Reuters had reported, citing sources. The London listing was delayed after authorities in Dubai unexpectedly decided to freeze tuition fees, meaning the company’s financial forecasts had to be adjusted, they said.
Dubai’s move last year to freeze school fees came amid a number of other measures to cut costs in a bid to stimulate the economy that has been hurt by a downturn in property prices.
The Dubai government said it will allow an increase in school fees for 90 percent of students by a maximum 2.07 percent from the 2019-2020 academic year.
Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, the crown prince and son of Dubai’s ruler, approved the new framework where the Dubai School Inspection Bureau will assess the quality of education in each school against its index and rank them accordingly.
Schools in which the quality of education is declining according to the government’s index will not be allowed to increase their fees.
Only 10 percent of the students in Dubai will have their fees increased by more than 2.07 percent, it said.