MIAMI — Airbus, announced Wednesday morning that the delivery of its first A350-900 XWB to launch customer Qatar Airways would be delayed until further notice. The ceremonial title transfer of MSN-006 was set for this coming Saturday December 13 with a ferry flight to Doha to follow that evening.
A media event was planned for Monday at Hamad International Airport in Doha. No reason for the delay or new timeline was given in a statement from Qatar: “Qatar Airways announces that the Airbus A350 aircraft ceremonial transfer of title has been postponed until further notice.
With the imminent launch of the new Airbus A350 programme, both entities are committed to introducing the A350 very soon.” Airbus through a spokeswoman reiterated the same thing “We are working very closely with Qatar Airways to meet our common goal to deliver their first A350 XWB very soon.”
in remarks at the Airbus Global Investor Forum in London this morning, Airbus Group CEO Tom Enders said that the A350 was on a very competitive flight test schedule “and we nailed that one.”
He noted that the manufacturer met its target certification date of the third quarter of 2013 and got FAA certification. “We said we would be ready to deliver the first aircraft at the end of the year, and we are ready to deliver it,” he said. “The aircraft is on the tarmac ready to be delivered, and I am very confident that delivery to our customer Qatar will happen very soon.” Airbus shares traded down around 10.5 percent in late afternoon trade.
Qatar Airways has orders for 80 A350s, including 43 -900s and 37 -1000s. Airbus has long maintained the delivery would be in the last quarter of 2014. This last minute delay marks one of the rare recent surprises in a program that has been relatively smooth and on time over the last year.
The delivery was scheduled nearly 18 months from the day the first A350-900 undertook its first flight back on June 14, 2013. The impact of this delay on the entry of the first A350-900 XWB into service on the Doha-Frankfurt route in mid January is unclear.
This is not without precedent. Qatar delayed delivery of its first 3 Airbus A380-800s earlier in the year by two months due to cabin finish issues. The initial 787 was also delayed by weeks. With Airbus Investor Days in London this week, this is sure to be a hot topic. Airways is scheduled to be on the ferry flight and at the ceremonial handover when it happens. We will have details as this story develops.