01 January 2015

The inside story to substitute the A350 with A350 XWB. The chess game between Airbus and Boeing. 1/4

Ten years ago, the boss of Qatar Airways warned Airbus it was flying off course.

Boeing was knocking on his door with a "super-efficient" jet boasting 30% fuel savings thanks to a carbon-composite design.

In Toulouse, some Airbus engineers, riding high after overtaking Boeing and suspecting a short-lived marketing stunt, laughed off the future 787 with a "tail like a dolphin".

Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker urged Airbus to take the 787 seriously and said its draft response, a quick fix to its A330 with new General Electric engines, was inadequate.

As Qatar Airways planned for rapid regional and long-haul growth, Al Baker recalls, "there was a requirement for an aircraft that has capacity that is optimal on two fronts: customer comfort and technologically forward-thinking".

That clamour for both cabin comfort and better economics eventually forced Airbus into a fundamental shift in strategy.

But after Al Baker's warning, it took another 2 years of sales setbacks and doubts at the highest management level before Airbus agreed to build the A350XWB.

That story was revealed by Reuters just before the 1st Delivery of the A350 to Qatar Airways on 22/Dec “after interviews with customers, suppliers and industry sources. Airbus declined comment.”

Based on the article “Flying back on course: the inside story of the new Airbus A350 jet” published in Reuters.


  1. Is it not funny that the original A350, that Airbus purposed, is now offered in a little less ambitious form as the A330neo, and it is almost as good as the 787. WHO was right???

    1. just imagine what it would have been like if A330neo entered service in 2010!!

  2. On that note, boeing took that approach for the 777-X after heavily critiquing airbus for that. Funny how this game goes.

  3. The unlogical part of story is that after Udvar, Al Baker and many others burried a simple re-engined A330 as a viable way ahead, without new engines, it sold 800+ in the 8 years after. Would it have been 1200-1400 with new engines? W'll never know.