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European airlines 'cannot keep up': Qatar Airways chief

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Qatar Airways chief Akbar Al-Baker boasted on Wednesday that European carriers "cannot keep up" with competition from Gulf carriers, as his fast-growing airline welcomed the first Airbus A350 plane.

[DOHA] Qatar Airways chief Akbar Al-Baker boasted on Wednesday that European carriers "cannot keep up" with competition from Gulf carriers, as his fast-growing airline welcomed the first Airbus A350 plane.

Doha-based Qatar Airways, along with Dubai's Emirates and Abu Dhabi's Etihad are "the fastest growing carriers," Mr Baker told a press conference in Doha.

"This is why we are creating a lot of concern for the European airlines who cannot keep up. We in the Gulf are leading the aviation industry today," he said.

Qatar Airways revealed in Doha on Wednesday the world's first Airbus A350 XWB commercial jet, little more than a week before the plane makes its maiden flight - from Doha to Frankfurt.

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Mr Baker pledged to expand the service soon to other European cities and New York.

The three Gulf carriers have snatched a sizable share of the long-haul travel sector, turning their home cities into major hubs on routes to Asia and Australasia.

They are major clients of aircraft manufacturers, with extensive lists of orders from Boeing and Airbus.

In November, Baker took a swipe at legacy carriers, accusing them of being "inefficient" and protected by EU policies.

The A350 XWB (extra wide body) is the newest model to roll off the European jet maker's production line and is the first entirely new plane to be showcased by one of the world's two biggest aircraft makers since Boeing unveiled its "Dreamliner" four years ago.

Its makers claim the plane's design is revolutionary, because of its fuel efficiency and relative quietness, and will be the last completely new commercial airliner developed over the next two decades.

Hailing the commercial airliner as a "majestic masterpiece" and the aviation "design of the decade", Mr Baker said it would soon be rolled out beyond Germany.

Qatar Airways, which will be the only airline to fly A350s for the foreseeable future, has bought 80 of the planes and Mr Baker told AFP that he expected "aircraft number eight" would be the one used for the New York route.

All 80 planes will have been received by Qatar Airways by the 2020s.

AFP

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