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Friday, February 26, 2021

Qatar Airways to swap A320neos for A321s after delivery delays

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By Victoria Scott

An A320neo test flight. Credit: Airbus

Qatar’s national carrier is in talks with Airbus to change its entire order of A320neo aircraft into an order for the larger A321neo, Reuters reports.

The 50 smaller jets on order from Qatar Airways have seen a series of delivery delays.

This is apparently due to problems with the plane’s engines, hydraulics and operating software.

Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker. Credit: Qatar Airways

The airline had been due to receive the first A320neos at the end of last year, but cancelled its order for the first four over performance issues.

Now Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker said that the airline would like to swap its entire order for the larger A321neo.

Al Baker told Reuters that he hoped to receive the first of these new aircraft by 2018.

Engine issues

Last year, the A320neo’s Pratt & Whitney engines were found to have problems with performance at high temperatures, a significant issue for Qatar Airways.

However, Pratt & Whitney said that it had resolved the “very few initial teething items” airlines had experienced with the engines.

A Qatar Airways A320 Neo — still under test by Airbus. Credit: Quentin / Flickr

Nevertheless, Al Baker seems to have changed his mind about the engines.

He told Reuters that he is considering opting for engines made by CFM, a joint venture between the US’s General Electric and Safran SA of France, instead.

The delay in the delivery of the A320neo to Qatar Airways has led to flight cancellations at the airline. It is struggling to address a shortage of aircraft as it continues to expand its route network.

Boeing 737 order

The A320neo is a single-aisle aircraft designed for use on short and medium-haul routes. Its direct competitor in this market is the Boeing 737.

In October, Qatar Airways announced signing a letter of intent with Boeing to purchase 60 737 MAX 8 jets valued at $6.9 billion.

Qatar Airways 737 Max. Credit: Boeing

Although no firm orders have been placed so far, it is possible that some of these will eventually be put to work at Qatar Airways.

However, Al Baker also told Reuters that some of the aircraft may be put into service at Italy’s second largest airline Meridiana.

Qatar Airways is still finalizing negotiations to buy 49 percent of the airline, with the deal expected to be closed in January, Reuters reported.

The airline had originally said that it expected to finalize its stake purchase in Meridiana by October this year.

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