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Cathay said to delay Airbus A350 delivery as seats not ready

[TOULOUSE] Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd. has pushed back the expected delivery of its first Airbus Group SE A350 model toward the middle of the year because business-class seats aren't ready for installation, according to two people familiar with the matter.

The airline, scheduled to get the wide-body jet by February, will now receive it closer to the end of the first half, the people said Wednesday, asking not to be named as the information isn't public. The A350's business berths are made by Zodiac Aerospace, which has been struggling to meet delivery schedules.

Cathay Pacific, Asia's biggest international airline, has ordered more fuel-efficient planes including the A350 and Boeing Co. 777X's as the Hong Kong-based company competes with carriers including Singapore Airlines Ltd. amid a surge in passenger traffic within the region and on inter-continental routes.

Cathay Pacific said in an e-mailed response to questions that the first of 22 A350-900s it has on order should be delivered "in early 2016." The carrier is also taking 26 larger -1000 variants.

Airbus, whose Chief Executive Officer Fabrice Bregier has singled out Zodiac as causing difficulties on the A350, saying it won't be invited to bid on the re-engined A330neo, said in an e-mail that the first plane destined for Cathay "is at an advanced stage of production" and that talks are underway to "finalize the delivery time-line." Zodiac said it couldn't immediately comment on the Cathay Pacific situation.

Airbus has also experienced unrelated difficulties in delivering its latest A320neo model, postponing the initial handover due in December to Qatar Airways Ltd after the carrier expressed concern about engine issues. Deutsche Lufthansa AG took its first jet this month and has another due mid-February, though Qatar has yet to receive an aircraft.