Airline CEO mocks Airbus, then signs for A320neo

Qatar Airways chief executive makes up with Airbus to sign huge order

In a bizarre about-turn, Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker says that an expected deal with Airbus will now go ahead as planned, despite bitter criticism of the manufacturer just hours earlier. The airline has signed a $6.4 billion order, selecting the A320neo as the reference aircraft for expanding its short- to medium-haul fleet, while simultaneously increasing its order for the A380. The agreement is a firm contract for 50 A320neo aircraft and five additional A380s. “The A320neo promises to be a great aircraft, which is why we have chosen it to form the backbone of our future single aisle expansion,” the Qatar Airways chief commented on the signing. Just hours earlier, however, he had publicly lambasted the aircraft maker when talks stalled, saying that Airbus was “still learning to build aircraft.”
He later explained: “Every day, sometimes you get stuck somewhere in the middle, especially when the lawyers throw the spanner into the wheel. The impasse was on an issue of the aircraft, and this is why I mentioned that Airbus is forgetting how to make airplanes.”
[pictured: Akbar Al Baker, Qatar Airways’ CEO, and John Leahy, Airbus Chief Operating Officer, Customers; photo courtesy Airbus]

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