Qatar Airways’ New 777X Fleet: Everything We Know So Far

Today we decided to take a look at Qatar Airways’ order with Boeing for the 777X widebody plane. It has been over seven years since the Hamad International Airport (DOH)-based airline announced a commitment to the aircraft at the 2013 Dubai Airshow. The airline followed up on this with a firm order for 50 777-9Xs and a commitment to the purchase of a further 50 777-9Xs at the 2014 Farnborough Airshow.

Boeing, 777X, orders
Qatar Airways has 60 Boeing 777Xs on order. Photo: Boeing

At the time, it was Qatar Airways’ biggest ever order for a single aircraft. If it follows through on the promise to purchase the additional 50 jets, it would have taken its spending to around $40 billion based on the list price for the plane.

Qatar Airways is committed to the Boeing 777X

After making the Boeing 777X announcement, Qatar Airways released a statement which read,

“Qatar Airways continuously builds upon its successful fleet program, and this latest announcement demonstrates our investment in quality equipment to deliver our signature Five-Star service. The Boeing 777 is a key component of our fleet, and we look forward to building on this with the next-generation 777-9X.”

Boeing similarly made a statement about the order, with Commercial Airplanes president and CEO Ray Conner saying,

“Qatar Airways took delivery of its first 777 a few short years ago, and we are honored to see, and aircraft the airline this partnership continue to grow and strengthen. Today signifies a new chapter in our relationship, with Qatar Airways’ endorsement of the 777X as well as their ongoing confidence in the value of the 777 Freighter. These orders validate the market-leading role that the 777 and now the 777X will continue to play in the Middle East’s passenger and cargo market.”

Boeing planned to start deliveries in 2020

The plan, back in 2014, was for Boeing to start production of its newest widebody in 2017 and then begin the first deliveries in 2020. Like most long-range plans, things do not go as expected, with American aerospace manufacturers encountering problems with the 777X’s engines.

Boeing selected the biggest jet engine ever built to power its flagship aircraft, the GE9X. While this may have seemed like a good choice at the time, the GE9X has encountered nagging problems throughout its development and testing.

Boeing 777X
Qatar Airways’ will receive its first Boeing 777X in 2022. Photo: Boeing

Then there was the grounding of the Boeing 737 MAX following two deadly crashes. This had Boeing taking a second look at the 777X to make sure its development process was up to scratch. The combination of the engine problems and the MAX situation forced Boeing to push its first deliveries of the 777X back to 2022, three years later than planned. To give you some idea of where we are now, the 777Xs first test flight only happened on January 25, 2020.

Qatar Airways’ will take 60 777Xs

Fast forward to the spring and the onset of COVID-19. This presented yet more problems for Boeing, as airlines worldwide started to revaluate orders for widebody long-haul aircraft.

Regarding Qatar Airways’ order for 100 planes, it says that it is committed to receiving 60 777X aircraft between 2022 and 2029. If rival Gulf airline Emirates cancels or swaps out the 115 777Xs it has ordered, Qatar could well end up being the largest operator of the jet.

Qatar Airways plans to use the Boeing 777X as a replacement for its Airbus A380s, which it has slated for retirement when they reach ten years old. There is also talk that Qatar Airways may fit out some of the new Boeing 777Xs with luxury first class cabins that it will deploy on premium routes.

When speaking with aviation website back in September, Qatar Airways’ CEO Akbar Al Baker confirmed his commitment to the Boeing 777X, saying,

“It is a very good airplane, and we will take them all for fleet replacements. We are happy it has been delayed; otherwise, we would have been taking delivery during COVID-19.”

777X Taxi Test
Currently, Boeing has four 777Xs undergoing test flights. Photo: Boeing

Currently, Boeing has four Boeing 777Xs conducting test flights, and all appears to be going well. COVID-19 has, however, had an impact and forced Boeing to scale back the production of the 777X in its first few years of manufacture. Hopefully, Qatar Airways will receive its first 777X in 2022, and that the aircraft will serve the Gulf carrier well for years to come.

What do you think about Qatar Airways’ order for 60 Boeing 777X planes? Do you think they will stick with it or try and amend it? Please tell us what you think in the comments.