Qatar Airways will take delivery of its first Airbus A350-1000 by the end of 2017, the Gulf carrier’s CEO confirmed Aug. 9.

The airline is the launch customer for the A350 and has been frustrated with delivery delays of the smaller A350-900 model. Earlier this year, it walked away from four of its planned 43 -900s, citing delivery delays.

Group CEO Akbar Al Baker has complained that holdups in deliveries of both the A350 and the re-engined A320neo are hampering the company’s expansion plans.

Speaking at a press conference in Doha Aug. 9, Al Baker said the company had been reassured by the European manufacturer that the first -1000 would be in the Gulf in 2017: “It is now in the certification process and Airbus has assured us that we will receive it late, but we will receive it before the end of the year.”

Qatar Airways plans to use the -1000 on routes to Asia, Europe and the US.

During the press conference, Al Baker also said Qatar Airways was studying the viability of a “very short” air corridor that had been offered this week by some of the four nations—Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the UAE—that have closed their airspace to Qatari aircraft as part of economic sanctions against the oil-rich nation. The neighboring countries have accused Qatar of supporting Islamic extremists and of attacking them via the Qatar-based Al Jazeera television station.

“Qatar Airways is studying the operational flexibility and benefits to fly through this route. We are evaluating and studying it—it’s only been two days,” Al Baker said. A Qatar Airways spokeswoman said she had no details of the corridor.

Later on Aug. 9, however, the UAE’s aviation regulator said it had not given permission for Qatari aircraft to resume flights over its territory: “The General Civil Aviation Authority of the United Arab Emirates denies allowing aircraft registered in the State of Qatar to cross the sovereign airspace of the state … those aircraft are only allowed to use the airspace managed by the UAE above international waters.”

Alan Dron