Airbus says starts final stage of A350 certification

PARIS, July 24 Thu Jul 24, 2014 5:37am EDT

PARIS, July 24 (Reuters) - Airbus began what it described as the final stage of safety trials for its A350 jetliner on Thursday as Europe's newest aircraft took off for a series of "route-proving" tests.

The tour of 14 world airports, including a trip over the North Pole, is designed to demonstrate the readiness of the new wide-bodied jet for passenger operations.

Safety certification by Europe's aviation safety regulator is on track for the third quarter, Airbus said in a statement, with the first delivery to launch customer Qatar Airways still expected before the end of the year. (Reporting by Tim Hepher; Editing by James Regan)