As if there was any doubt that it was not a good idea to upset Qatar Airways’s Akbar Al Baker, especially before a major air show, the outspoken CEO reminded the world by firing a verbal broadside at Airbus for delaying the entry-into-service of the A350.
Qatar Airways and Airbus have been in talks to purchase additional A380s and also for the A320NEO (new engine option). But Qatar Airways is the lead customer for the A350-900 (and has placed a total order for 80 A350s of different types), and Airbus, last week, finally came clean on a delay of the development schedule, with entry-into-service moving to 2014 from 2013.
“We are not happy,” Al Baker said as he was also announcing an order for two Boeing 777 freighters during the Dubai air show.
Speaking moments after an Airbus/Qatar Airways press conference was called off where he was expected to place an order for five more A380s (doubling his commitment to the platform), Al Baker let loose:
“As far as Airbus is concerned, we have reached an impasse. We thought we would conclude our agreement and make a very large announcement today. Unfortunately I feel that Airbus is still learning how to make aeroplanes.”
If the impasse can’t be resolved “we will say bye-bye” to the deal, he warns Airbus.
But the story does not end there. Al Baker also says he will go forward with taking converted 767s freighters. The A330s will be disposed of, since Airbus currently does not offer an after-market conversion. “Airbus can’t make up their mind” on the conversion.
Even the Boeing officials in the room were amazed by the outburst. Jaws dropped. Boeing officials certainly know what it feels like. At the Paris air show in 2009, Al Baker said the company was run by “bean counters” and “lawyers.”
Stay tuned for more from the 2011 Al Baker Air Show.