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Double moves for Qatar could be great leap forward

February 1, 2018 Headline News No Comments Email Email

Qatar Airways has hit the headlines on two fronts: it has done a deal with the Trump Administration which looks like resolving one of the most bitter disputes among airlines in many years; and it is about to receive its first Airbus A350-1000 – a new aircraft type for which it is the launch customer.

The simmering dispute between US carriers and Mideast airlines involves allegations of state subsidies.

Qatar Airways has now signalled to the Trump Administration it will commit to greater financial transparency and will give up “fifth freedom” rights – the ability to run indirect flights to the US through other countries. This would, presumably, restrict it to end-to-end traffic between the US and Qatar.

According to the Dallas Morning News, US carriers are hailing the deal as a victory in a bitter dispute. For years, US carriers have accused their Gulf competitors of receiving unfair government subsidies, a charge the Gulf carriers have always denied.

American Airlines’ chief executive Doug Parker described Qatar Airways’ move as a “landmark action” that would help create a level playing field between US carriers and Qatar Airways. Other US airline chiefs have been similarly enthusiastic.

Qatar Airways 366 seat A350-1000

Senior US State Department officials say that within a year, the Doha-based airline will adopt internationally recognised accounting standards and issue annual reports and audited results, in cases where it is not doing so already.

MEANWHILE, as launch customer for the 366 seat A350-1000 and also its smaller sister, the 325 seat A350-900, Qatar Airways expects to receive its first A350-1000 later this month.

Qatar Airways chief executive, Akbar Al Baker, welcomed the arrival of the Airbus A350-1000 test aircraft to Qatar, as part of a special demonstration tour by Airbus. The visit was the first stop by the advanced aircraft to 12 destinations throughout the Middle East and Asia Pacific, designed to showcase the aircraft’s features to airlines and passengers.

Qatar Airways has ordered 37 A350-1000s, dubbed the world’s most advanced passenger aircraft.

“The delivery of the world’s first commercial A350-1000 next month is highly-anticipated by Qatar Airways passengers and employees,” Al Baker said.

Qatar has 37 A350-1000s on order, plus 39 -900s, with 21 of those already delivered by Airbus. The Asia leg of the A350-1000 tour will include a Singapore visit, where the A350-1000 will be on static display at the Singapore Airshow, which starts in four days time.

Written by Peter Needham

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