Qatar, the launch customer, gives harsh critique of A350 revamp

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24 Comments on “Qatar, the launch customer, gives harsh critique of A350 revamp

  1. Not sure what performance information was around to airlines prior to the revamp of the A350-1000, but what ever there was, Qatar felt they could place an order at the time.

    • From the beginning, A billed the -1000 as a head/head competitor with the -300ER, until Tim Clark and Steve UH said it was not. A probably gave UTurn specs that made it competitive with the -300ER in pax and range. When that deception became untennable, A made the improvements announced at the Paris show which even Leahy conceded were not enough to equal the -300ER. He called the -1000, “in a class by itself.” That doesn’t mean it won’t sell. The -300ER is a lot of airplane, and many carriers may not need that much of a plane, and will be attracted to the -1000’s great fuel burn. It just isn’t a -300ER, particularly if B can reduce fuel burn as part of its claimed PIP program, and it was a mistake for A to claim it was. I am puzzled however by UTurn’s claim that the commonality with the A359 would be unsatisfactory, because A is claiming 90%.

      If A has a problem with the A350 family, to me it is with the A358. It is not selling, and rumors are that A is trying to get A358 customers to switch to 359s. If A terminates the 358 it will be conceding the entire 200-300 seat mkt to the 788/9, which will make the 789/10 a very attractive competitor with the A359 on commonality grounds; ie the many airlines that want the 788/9 will buy the 789/10 to replace their A333/772Ers. If that happens, then the -1000 may prove less attractive because it will not have commonality as part of a family of planes.

      All this gets to the question which many of us have blogged about: Where will B put the dividing lilne between the largest 787 and smallest 777 PIP/new plane? From B’s info at Paris, they may be considering an overlap between the 7810 and the 777-8x. They said that the 7810 would carry 330 pax, and be much more efficient than the A359 but with 2000 miles less range. They also suggested that the 772ER PIP/777-8x could be slightly larger than the 772ER and have a range of about 8000 mi. If B does this, they will be offering two families of planes in the 300-320 seat mkt segment, one with commonality down to the 788’s 223 pax and one wth commonality up to the 365-85 seats of the -300ER PIP/777-9x. Either way, they will be offering a family with significant commonality in the 300-320 pax segment which will make them competitive with the A359 which is the only member of the A359 family that has really hit a sweet spot for sales.

      • My understanding for the (initial) -1000 was that it (he&/she?)
        covered 90++% of the 777 missions at 75% of 777 cost.

  2. Mr. Baker trying to play both sides and got a tit for tat offer from Boeing?

    Looks like in his critique he steps adroitly around the provided
    massive reduction in fuel expenditure and MX costs.

    Should Airbus revert to the original -1000 specs and push that
    on the market at expedited speeds?

  3. I tend to think he was a totally spoiled kid as a kid, that always got what he wanted, when he wanted. A prince.

  4. “What they are going to give us is fewer seats than the 777-300ER and marginally more range,” he said, speaking exclusively to Flightglobal. “Why should I go for a new aeroplane while I already have one that has more revenue generation and just a little less range. I’m investing in this aircraft with very little marginal benefit, range-wise, and negative benefit capacity-wise.”

    If this had been Tim Clark speaking, at least this comment would have made some sense.

    Qatar Airways 777-300ERs have 335 seats in a two class configuration. In comparison to Emirates, Qatar is not utilising the extra width of the 77W

    Business Class: 42 seats in a spacious 2-2-2 seating configuration.
    Economy Class: 293 seats in a 3-3-3 seating configuration.

    Now, Emirates, on the other hand, is using a 2-3-2 seating configuration in Business Class and a 3-4-3 seating configuration in Economy Class. Form the seating charts, one can see that has an average of 100 more seats on their two class 77Ws.

    3 class – 364 / 358 / 354
    2 class – 427 / 442

    What this means, of course, is that Mr. Baker is not only blowing smoke, but that he’s seemingly being cavalier with the truth. The A350-1000 will have about the same cabin length as the 777-300ER hence it will easily match the number of seats (in Y and C with the same pitch) as is curently the standard in Qatar’s current fleet of 77Ws.

    Granting Akbar the benefit of the doubt, I’ll assume that it’s not his operating mode to be cavalier with facts and the truth. Perhaps, he’s just been chewing too much khat lately?

    • The B-77W has a interior cabin width of 19’3″ while the A-3510XWB is only 18’5″ wide in the cabin. Yes, EK does fly their B-777s with 10 across seating in economy, but the seats are only 17″ wide to do that. QR uses wider 19″ seats. These are long ranged aircraft, and comfort over those long flights is important to the paying customers, even those in economy.

      According to Boeing, the B-77W has a max seating of 365, in 3 classes. Airbus says the A-3510 has a max seating of 350 in 3 classes. QR configuers their B-77W with 335 (in 3 classes), 30 seats less than the max seating of the airplane. If they use the same 19″ wide seats in the A-3510, that is about 315-320 seats in 3 classes, still fewer than the Boeing.

      The B-77W will also carry more cargo than the A-3510 can. Cargo is revenue to any airline, and QR uses the holds to the fullest, when they can.

      • BTW, Airbus offers 8, 9, or 10 across seating in economy. The only way they can get to the 350 seat claim is with 10 abreast seating.

        Airbus actually has these lies on the web site about the A-3510;

        “… / A350 XWB / A350-1000 / Cabin layout & comfortCabin layout & comfortthe future of cabin comfort
        The A350-1000 is the longest-fuselage version of Airbus’ all-new A350 XWB family of widebody aircraft, measuring 74.3 metres from nose to tail. This new-generation jetliner seats a total of 350 passengers in a typical three-class configuration, or up to 440 in a higher-density layout.

        Being five inches wider than competing aircraft at eye-level, shoulder-level and armrest-level, the A350 XWB is simply the best in its class – capable of offering passengers the widest economy class seats yet and the most innovative and leading premium class products.

        With the widest interior cross section in its category (5.61 metres), the A350 XWB Family’s seating flexibility in economy class includes nine- and 10-abreast configurations, as well as enhanced an economy arrangement in an eight-abreast layout. Premium class cabins provide unmatched”
        comfort at six- or seven-abreast seating.”

        It clearly is 10″ narrower (interior) than the B-77W, the plane they say they are competing against.

        • “It clearly is 10″ narrower”
          This is not a contest about procreation implements 😉

          apropos Airbus says max 550pax in single class
          if we assume a 60m usable cabin length thats about
          s/r row spacing (inch)
          7 30.284675954
          8 34.7383047707
          9 38.7246676133
          10 42.9491768075
          11 47.2440944882
          100 less PAX provides comfy room for a 3 class arrangement imho.

          If airbus lies, how do we tag your “off target” informations?

      • KC, you seem to have missed my point, Qatar Airways will be able to put the exact number of seats on their A350-1000 as is currently installed on their 777-300ERs. The only difference being that the seats on the A350 will have the same seat width as those which are currently installed on their A332/3s and A346s.

        BTW, the seat widths in Y on their 777-300ERs are 18,17″

        (NB: Click on spacious & comfortable seats)

  5. The Queen in Alice in Wonderland comes to mind!
    Off with who’s head I wonder.

  6. “spoiled brat”

    That could be indicative of the method but not his motivation.
    Frustrating Airbus probably gains him some rebates with Boeing
    for the set of 777s he professedly will have to buy.

  7. Maybe he should just get it over with and cancel the order.

    CX, EK, UA and some European airline can take the slots.

  8. He only said, Keesje, he could switch his order from the A-3510 to the A-359. Essentially he is not changing the number of A-350s he has on order. But is he hinting Boeing is already working on a 5% PIP on the B-77W?

  9. If Boeing is already working on a 5% PIP on the B-77W, all the more reason to simply cancel the A350-1000 order. Why would he wait if the better sized aircraft can be had years earlier ? Qatar will survive, Airbus will survive, why continue this troublesome order?

    The A340-600 wasn’t worth it either. Additional 777-300ERs can be had from 2015 with little risk and 100% commonality.

    I t hink Al Baker should stand firm behind his principles and insights and call it a day.

  10. While a 5% fuel burn improvement is nothing you do easily.
    Boeing hardly achieves a 10% benefit over the A330 with the B787.
    The B777-300ER’s engines are not “old”, they are state-of-the-art. Probably GE can squeeze out some minor improvements, but not 5%.
    Airframe-wise: you could probably save some weight, but 1990ies tech aluminum airliners are structurally very efficient, so efficient, that beating them with clean sheet composite airframes is difficult.
    Aerodynamics: basically the same, you can probably eliminate some drag counts, but nothing that gives you 5%, actually 1% sounds rather optimistic.

    The only options Boeing has is to optimize the wing for higher weights (the B777-300ER has a very high wing loading) and improve induced drag by that. That costs money but could yield 2-4% improvement, especially on long sectors. The last comes from the engine. If the resulting B777-300ER is better then the A350-1000 depends very much on route and payload.

  11. The customer is always right and it is a free world ;different airline owners/leaders have different ways of saying things about the products they consider buying. Here is a customer saying that he is not happy with the -1000 as proposed . He thinks that it should be much better than his alternative -an improved (likely) 300ER.No point in bashing him on his view.
    The talk of 300 ER going away with the debut of the improved -1000 is premature and B will respond and have to earn its premier position in the long range twin market in the 370 seat segment -by defending its turf vs the new -1000.Without any bias, I would say, B could well do that .Do not forget the 350- 1000 has a long way to go and A has still got to overcome composite tech challenges ; sure they will like B did for their 787 ,though it could well be late into this decade.

  12. Qatar Airways is not the benchmark for the B777-300ER. Emirates is and they have decided to switch their A350-900s to the A350-1000s, so they must know something..

  13. Uwe :“It clearly is 10″ narrower”This is not a contest about procreation implements
    apropos Airbus says max 550pax in single classif we assume a 60m usable cabin length thats abouts/r row spacing (inch)7 30.2846759548 34.73830477079 38.724667613310 42.949176807511 47.2440944882100 less PAX provides comfy room for a 3 class arrangement imho.
    If airbus lies, how do we tag your “off target” informations?

    Where was I ‘off target’ when I cut and pasted directly for Airbus’s web site? Would you like to ride in an economy seat for 14-16 hours in a 350 pax A-3510? I wouldn’t do it is a 365 pax B-77W.

    Airbus does not list the A-3510 cabin lenght, but you are probibly very close with your 60 m guess. The total lenght is some 78.88 m (242′ 5″) does make it the longest airliner in the world (formerly held by the A-340-600).

    Airbus claims an operating cost advantage of 25% over its competition (B-777-300ER).

    “As with the other A350 XWB Family members, the A350-1000 brings together the very latest in aerodynamics, design and advanced technologies to provide a 25 per cent step change in fuel efficiency compared to its current long-range competitor. ”

    That is a very bold claim, seeing Airbus has only sold 75 A-3510 compared to the hundreds of B-77Ws ordered and delivered. It seem the airlines don’t believe that as they have been voting with their orders.

  14. I personally do not feel that the A350-1000 will be any sort of Boeing killer. With the numbers given out until now, it certainly does not blow away the 777. But with this aircraft, Airbus does get a legitimate shot at selling to customers in this segment. Something it did not have before, or for the longest time (depending on how one looks at the A340).

    That Mr. Al Baker airs his thoughts, unedited, in the open, seems to be par for the course for him. He did the same thing to Boeing concerning the 787 delays last year (I think it was last year). What are the OEMs going to do? Not sell him their planes?! It may not be the classiest manner but he does have something many others do not. He can put his money where his mouth is. It certainly rankles but what can one do about it.

  15. keesje :KCTB,
    * the A350-1000 is significantly shorter then you assume.
    ** comparing the orderbook for an aircraft that has been on sale for a decade, versus an aircraft that will EIS in 6-7 years is an interesting approach, certainly not lying.
    I agree the airlines will be voting with their orders for slots available at both lines, after 2016.

    I said;

    Airbus does not list the A-3510 cabin lenght, but you are probibly very close with your 60 m guess. The total lenght is some 78.88 m (242′ 5″)

    Ooops, I made a typo, it should read 73.88 m. Thanks for catching that.

  16. I think the bigger engines / wings not only increase payload capability for the A350-1000, A350-900F and A350-900R, but also increasingly leave open the door open for a 5 meter / 5 row stretch, giving in on payload-range but improving seat-mile costs, like the A330-300 and planned 787-10. And still easily be able to do 80-90% of long haul city pairs. Launch would be around the moment the -1000 enters service.

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