Qatar Airways Could Swap Boeing 777-8 Order For 777-9

Qatar Airways could convert its order for 10 Boeing 777-8 aircraft into orders for the Boeing 777-9. The comment was made by Qatar CEO, Akbar Al-Baker, following the carrier’s inaugural flight to Langkawi, Malaysia.

Boeing, Boeing 777-8, Qatar Airways
Qatar Airways’ CEO has indicated the carrier may switch its Boeing 777-8 orders to the Boeing 777-9. Photo: Boeing

The move would mean that only Emirates would be left with the 777-8 on order. However, Emirates’ CEO, Tim Clark, is reportedly looking to swap some Boeing 777X orders for the 787. Yesterday, it was indicated that the whole Boeing 777-8 timeline could depend on a Project Sunrise order from Qantas. Boeing is currently working on the introduction of the 777-9, with the 777-8 set to follow.

Qatar’s 777X order

Qatar Airways currently has 60 Boeing 777X aircraft on order. This consists of ten of the smaller Boeing 777-8, and 50 of the larger Boeing 777-9. The airline’s order for the 60 aircraft was originally placed back on the 16th of July 2014. However, the 10 Boeing 777-8 aircraft were added to the order on the 15th of June 2015 at the Paris Air Show.

Boeing, Boeing 777-8, Qatar Airways
Qatar Airways has a large Boeing 777 fleet. Photo: Boeing

According to Reuters, however, the airline’s CEO, Akbar Al-Baker, could be having second thoughts about his Boeing 777-8 order. Rather than scrapping the order, the airline would instead look to trade it in for the Boeing 777-9.

Mr Al-Baker told Reuters:

“If the 9 is performing very close to the parameters that the 8 will operate, yes we may convert the 8 to 9”

Other Boeing 777-8 orders

If Qatar traded up its order for the Boeing 777-8, that would just leave Emirates with a confirmed order for the type. The Dubai based carrier currently has a total of 150 Boeing 777X aircraft on order. This consists of 35 orders for the 777-8, and 115 777-9 orders.

However, there are also thoughts that Emirates’ CEO, Tim Clark, is considering swapping some of these orders. In July it was reported that Emirates was reassessing its Boeing 777X order following the cancellation of the Airbus A380 program.

Boeing, Boeing 777-8, Qatar Airways
Emirates’ first Boeing 777X is already under construction. Photo: Emirates Airlines

What about Project Sunrise?

Boeing has been expected to put forward the 777-8 as its entry to Qantas’ Project Sunrise. Earlier today we learned that Airbus would be submitting the regular A350-1000 for the project.

A Boeing spokesperson yesterday told Simple Flying:

“We reviewed our development program schedule and the needs of our current 777X customers and decided to adjust the schedule. The adjustment reduces risk in our development program, ensuring a more seamless transition to the 777-8.

“We continue to engage with our current and potential customers on how we can meet their fleet needs. This includes our valued customer Qantas.”

Simple Flying has contacted representatives of Qatar Airways, however, had not heard back at the time of publication.

Do you think Qatar should switch exclusively to the Boeing 777-9, or keep it’s Boeing 777-8 orders? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!