Airbus And Qatar Airways In Impasse Over A380

There’s no better source of drama in the airline industry than the delivery of Qatar Airways’ A380 (though the battle for Seattle is in the same league). Qatar’s A380 delivery schedule has been pushed back seemingly indefinitely, and the only explanation that has been provided is that it’s due to “issues with the aircraft interior.”

My theory has been that Qatar wants to launch some super-impressive first class product overnight to compete with Etihad’s new Residences cabin, which Emirates has said they’ll match. However, that’s a process that takes years and not months.

Up until now we’ve seen Qatar Airways’ A380 delivery delayed more often than a regional jet out of JFK Airport during a winter storm:

Qatar-Airways

Well, it looks like this mystery just got even more exciting, if that’s possible. Qatar was supposed to display their A380 at the Farnborough Air Show this week. But what’s amusing is what His Excellency, Mr. Akbar Al Baker, has to say about it. Via Flightglobal:

“It is not here because we are in an impasse with Airbus,” Al Baker tells Flightglobal. “We refused to take delivery of our three A380s that are already ready in Hamburg and were supposed to be delivered to us over the month of June.”

Al Baker declined to specify the reasons for the delay, saying “I think you better ask Airbus”. He previously blamed the hold-up on “certain issues affecting the interior of the cabin”.

The airline chief would also not say when he expected deliveries to begin, referring questions about the likely revised schedule to Airbus.

I think we need to call Andy Cohen so we can have a three part Bravo show where he sits down with Airbus and Qatar. It might just be juicier than the Real Housewives of Atlanta Season 6 Reunion (if that’s possible).

This isn’t Airbus’ first rodeo. Surely there’s nothing actually wrong with the aircraft, or at least not anything that would take months to fix. And if it were something on Airbus’ end, surely His Excellency would be publicly ragging on them.

As much as I like ragging on His Excellency, in a way he’s really growing on me. There’s simply not a person in the airline industry with as much conviction as him. He’s totally ridiculous, and the best part is that (I think) he knows it.

So, does anyone have any guesses as to what’s causing these delays? I’m out of ideas…

(Tip of the hat to @2tsieRole)

Comments

  1. This is so entertaining…I actually just want this to Airbus-Qatar drama to keep going so I have something to giggle at. My guess? Al Baker “refused to take delivery” because Qatar Airways doesn’t have the funds to complete payment on them? I’m not sure how financing works when dealing with multi-million dollar aircrafts, but I’m wondering if it’s maybe a simple case of biting off more than one can chew? I don’t know. I have no idea how things like that work, but I don’t think Al Baker would have these delays if he could help it. Image is everything to him and it doesn’t look good if you keep failing to deliver service on an aircraft that direct competitors have been flying in for 1+ years. He’s the star of Real Housewives of Airlines. BYE FELICIA.

  2. A most reasonable guess would be Al Baker has some minor complains about the interior that he’s blown out of proportion.

    Given the level of competition between Emirates/Etihad/Qatar, I am surprised Emirates hasn’t yet offered Qatar to wet lease one of their many, many A380s 😛

  3. It’s easy to complain and point fingers when one has an unlimited supply of money and at least a country-wide, government sponsored monopoly on air travel.
    Aircraft interior envy is kinda lame.

  4. Last year I flew out of Doha in first to CDG, and when were picked up from the biz/first terminal in a 7 series BMW, you have to pass the “royal terminals” enroute to the aircraft. The thing that stuck out to me with the “royal terminals” is the literal 40ft red carpet they have which roll out directly to the planes.

    My guess is that Qatar is in an impasse because the whirlpool tub in their “Residence” competitor is being deemed impossible!

  5. Impasse is an interesting word. The contracts for these things must be hundreds of pages, including the change orders – oversimplifying, I know. Either the planes are built to spec and ready to go – point to Airbus – or they aren’t and need to be fixed/changed – point to Qatar.

  6. @Lucky – there is an issue with upper deck door seals on a number of newer build A380s that requires strip out and reinstallation of door frame. That in turn requires the upper deck interior to be removed and reinstalled. Not an easy or quick proposition by any means, especially if there is a fancy interior config. Qatar are not the only operator affected. Emirates has also had to delay a number of recent A380 deliveries due to this, and presumably others as well.

  7. Why do you keep calling this guy “his excellency”
    From the articles I’ve read about him, this guy should be ashamed and in prison regarding how he treats his employees. This guy is a Bad CEO at best, and at worst a criminal. Please stop saying “his excellency”

  8. What is happening in Qatar in 2022? The World Cup.

    With all the controversy surrounding this, what does Qatar need? Support from Germany and France.

    Result: Refuse delivery of multiple A380’s until France and Germany offer their public support of Qatar as World Cup host.

    Plausible? I think so…

    I’ll take off the tin foil hat now. 🙂

  9. Is there any American airline flying A380 right now???or 765&757 are better alternative,some comments here are just ridiculous,Financial problems???well must be ignorant to know the deep pocket Qatar have,stop talking about this as if anyone of you have paid a first class tiket and his flight been postponed.

  10. I find it all very strange that someone such as Al Baker, who employs his own in house interior design specialists, and who keeps track of progress like a hawk, suddenly finds fault on a number of interior issues.

    I agree that this all exploded when Etihad announced their 1st class layout for their A380s. Nothing like envy to create an emergency ‘plan B’, i.e. blame the manufacturer. Al Baker is unique amongst A380 operators in being so critical at such a late stage. Maybe he’s looking for a few A330neos as freebies.

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