MIAMI — According to Aviation Week Network (AWN). Airbus will swap the deliveries of its A320neo aircraft from launch customer Qatar Airways to Lufthansa, thus the German carrier becoming the first airline to take delivery of the type.
The industry sources quoted in the AWN report cited that the change was due to operational constraints in place for the Pratt & Whitney PW1100G engine, pending some hardware and software changes due to be implemented “within a matter of weeks.” The possibility of “a slight delay” due to engine issues began to circulate back in June 2015 as reported by Jon Ostrower and The Wall Street Journal.


Just in a press conference held today in New York, Qatar Airways GCEO Mr. Akbar Al Baker remained confident that he expects a “Christmas miracle” and “that Airbus will deliver the A320neo before the end of the year” but added that if there are delays Pratt & Whitney would be on the hook. Nevertheless, the AWN report indicates that Qatar was reluctant to take delivery of the A320neo under such operational limitations “and will not do so until the restrictions are lifted.”

An Airbus spokesperson confirmed to AirwaysNews that “we are in talks with our customers about the first deliveries of their aircraft though it is their privilege to announce the delivery date. We do confirm our plan to start the neo delivery stream this year.”

During the Dubai Air Show in November 2011, Qatar Airways placed orders (firm and options) for 80 of Airbus’ new A320neos. Interestingly, Qatar Airways was the first airline in the world to operate every family of Airbus’ modern airliner portfolio, comprising the A320, A330, A340, A350 and A380. These delays aren’t without precedent. The carrier was the launch customer of the Airbus A350 XWB one year ago also after a week-long delay upon request of Mr. Al Baker due to cabin finishing issues.

And during his association with Cargolux Airlines, Mr. Al Baker also opted to postpone the delivery of the first Boeing 747-8 Freighter days before the expected handover. The airline attributed the decision to “unresolved contractual issues” with Boeing.

The report states that Lufthansa Group CEO Carsten Spohr confirmed that the airline and Airbus are negotiating the delivery scheduled to be on December 22. However, given the regulatory issues to clear and a financial compensation requested by Lufthansa, these negotiations might not get to fruition.

If Lufthansa and Airbus agree on the delivery of the A320neo, the carrier would start serving the Frankfurt – Hamburg route on January 6, and the A320neo delivery order would place Qatar Airways as the second A320neo operator, followed by Indian low-cost carrier IndiGo.

At this point, however nothing is cast in stone or aluminum.