Qantas picks Airbus for world’s longest flights

A passenger stands in front of a window where Qantas planes are parked at Melbourne Airport, Australia. (Reuters/File)
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Updated 14 December 2019

Qantas picks Airbus for world’s longest flights

  • Airline could order up to 12 planes

SYDNEY: Australia’s Qantas Airways picked Airbus over Boeing  as the preferred supplier for jets capable of the world’s longest commercial flights from Sydney to London, dealing the US planemaker its latest setback this year.

The choice of up to 12 A350-1000 planes fitted with an extra fuel tank for flights of up to 21 hours cements Airbus as the leader in ultra-long haul flying at a time when Boeing is battling delays on its rival 777X programme and a crisis following two deadly 737 MAX crashes.

The Qantas flights would begin in the first half of 2023, but remain subject to the airline reaching a pay deal with pilots, who would need to extend their duty times to around 23 hours to account for potential delays and switch between flying the A350 and the airline’s current A330 fleet. A final decision on an order is expected in March, the airline said on Friday.

Qantas CEO Alan Joyce said the airline “had a lot of confidence” in the market for non-stop services from Sydney to London and to New York based on two years of flying non-stop from Perth to London, where it has achieved a 30 percent fare premium over one-stop rivals in premium classes.

“The A350 is a fantastic aircraft and the deal on the table with Airbus gives us the best possible combination of commercial terms, fuel efficiency, operating cost and customer experience,” he said.

Singapore Airlines Ltd operates the world’s current longest flight, nearly 19 hours from Singapore to New York, using an ultra-long range version of the smaller A350-900.

Airbus Chief Commercial Officer Christian Scherer thanked Qantas for its selection in a statement, while a Boeing spokesman said it was disappointed with the decision but looked forward to continuing its longstanding partnership with the airline.

Rico Merkert, a transport professor at the University of Sydney Business School, said the A350-1000 was “a much safer bet” given Boeing had recently reported problems such as the grounding of the 737 MAX, structural cracks in 737 NGs and a fuselage split in a stress test of its 777-9.

Airbus no longer provides list prices for aircraft, but based on its 2018 price list, the Qantas order could be worth up to $4.4 billion before heavy discounts that are standard for airline customers.

Citi estimated on Friday the planes would cost A$3 billion ($2.04 billion) to $3.5 billion, with the investment likely to be phased over three years.


Iraq pledges full compliance with OPEC+ oil cuts

Updated 07 August 2020

Iraq pledges full compliance with OPEC+ oil cuts

  • Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman Al-Saud, the Saudi Arabian energy minister, and his Iraqi counterpart, Ihsan Ismail, reaffirmed their commitment to the cuts
  • Under tough economic pressure, Iraq had struggled to meet the full cuts, but Ismail promised to reach 100 percent this month

DUBAI: Iraq has pledged to meet in full its obligations under the OPEC+ oil production cuts that have been credited with rebalancing global crude markets after the mayhem of April’s “Black Monday” when prices crashed around the world.

In a telephone call between Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman Al-Saud, Saudi Arabian energy minister, and his Iraqi counterpart, Ihsan Ismail, the two men reaffirmed their commitment to the cuts, which have helped to pull the oil price back from historic lows.

Brent crude, the global benchmark, has more than doubled in the past three months.

Under tough economic pressure, Iraq had struggled to meet the full cuts, but Ismail promised to reach 100 percent this month. Iraq has now committed itself to an ambitious program of compensation to make up for past overproduction.

Iraq will further reduce production by 400,000 barrels per day this month and next, Ismail said, bringing its total cut to 1.25 million barrels daily. That level of cuts could be adjusted when final estimates of compliance are assessed by the six “secondary sources” that monitor OPEC+ output.

“The two ministers stressed that efforts by OPEC+ countries toward meeting production cuts, and the extra cuts under the compensation regime, will enhance oil market stability, help accelerate the rebalancing of global oil markets, and send a constructive signal to the market,” a joint statement added.

Prince Abdulaziz thanked Ismail for his efforts to improve Iraq’s compliance with the agreement.

Iraq had been the biggest laggard in the move toward 100 percent compliance by the 23 members of the OPEC+ alliance.

Officials in Riyadh told Arab News that Iraqi compliance had reached about 90 percent, a high level by the country’s previous standards but still short of the new targets.

Saudi Arabia has been forcefully advocating full compliance with the targets in an effort to remove oil from the global market as demand is still badly affected by the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The oil market will be under the spotlight later this month when the joint ministerial monitoring committee of OPEC+ energy ministers convenes virtually in the most recent of the monthly meetings set up to oversee the state of the global industry.

Oil had another strong week on global markets, breaking through the $45 barrier for the first time since early March on signs that the glut in US oil stocks was easing, as well as reductions in the amount of “floating crude” stored in tankers on the world’s oceans.

The price spiked on news of the Beirut explosion, which some analysts believed could herald a deterioration in regional security and a threat to oil exports.

Brent crude was trading at $44.70 on international markets.