Qatar Airways could be close to announcing an order for the 777X freighter. The CEO of the Middle Eastern carrier said on Wednesday that he is seriously looking at the aircraft to fill its future cargo needs. Let’s take a look at how realistic this could be.
As we near the end of the event, a significant aspect of the 2021 Dubai Airshow has been freighter news. This is sure to continue well past the airshow as air operators look to cash in on the current high demand for freight transportation by air. With Airbus and Boeing intending to offer large twinjet cargo versions of the A350 and 777X, respectively, the big planemakers are anticipating this need to continue far into the future.
According to Reuters, Qatar Airways is close to pulling the trigger and placing an order for future freighters. Hoping to see an “attractive proposition from Boeing,” airline CEO Akbar Al Baker has his eye on a freight version of the 777X- a jet that would integrate well with his existing fleet of nearly 30 777Fs. The CEO added more excitement by offering the following remarks:
“We are seriously looking at placing a large cargo order, a freighter order…we are going to imminently place a large freighter order…Of course, I cannot tell you with whom we are going to place the order. But one thing I can say is that the proposal we have received from Boeing is very attractive to the airline.”
Boeing in talks with customers
While Boeing has yet to officially launch a 777X freighter program, it’s already a hot topic and one that has been mentioned in the company’s most recent reporting-. “Evaluating the timeline” was the most specific and detailed language the planemaker’s CEO could offer in his message to Boeing employees.
As Reuters notes, Boeing Senior Vice President Commercial Sales and Marketing Ihssane Mounir told reporters that discussions are ongoing with “several prospective customers,” with “advanced discussions with many of them on what they want and what the airplane would look like.”
This variant of the 777X could even come before the shorter passenger 777-8. Mounir told reporters on Wednesday when asked about Emirates’ 777X order:
“[The 777-8] is an airplane that is part of [the Emirates] family. We’ve always looked at it as the second or third in the family in terms of when it comes to market, second to the 777-9.”
Holding our breath
Anticipation has been building for Qatar Airways to announce which next-generation freighter it will place an order for. Speaking with Simple Flying in the summer of this year, Al Baker expressed his eagerness to see variants of the A350 or 777X- adding that his airline would be first in line as a launch customer.
The A350F already has a customer, with ALC provisionally ordering seven. If Qatar Airways were to turn to Boeing, it wouldn’t be a complete surprise. That’s because of the tensions between the airline and Airbus over the grounding of some of the carrier’s A350s due to the discovery of fuselage cracks.
Thus we will have to continue waiting to see when Qatar makes an announcement- and whether our expectations for a 777X freighter order prove correct.
What do you think of this news? Will Qatar Airways sign with Boeing? Let us know in the comments.