On Tuesday, Qatar Airways’ CEO Akbar Al Baker confirmed his airline would be taking the full 60 of the Boeing 777X it has on order. The deliveries of Boeing’s latest version of the widebody jet to Doha will begin in 2022 and stretch through to 2029.
Deliveries through 2029
It looks as if Boeing is keeping Qatar Airways as a customer, at least for a while longer. The Gulf carrier and the American planemaker seem to have finally reached an agreement on delaying aircraft deliveries.
In a statement to AirlineRatings.com, Qatar CEO Akbar Al Baker said today that his airline would take all 60 of the new Boeing 777Xs it has on order.
“It is a very good airplane and we will take them all for fleet replacements,” Mr Al Baker told the outlet. “We are happy it has been delayed, otherwise we would have been taking delivery during COVID-19.”
The Qatar CEO further stated that the first 777X will now arrive in Doha in 2022, with deliveries stretched out to 2029. They will gradually replace Qatar’s existing fleet of 57 777s.
As Qatar Airways recently reached a deal with Airbus for deferral of deliveries due to the effects of the pandemic, Mr Al Baker did not mince words for how lack of flexibility from the manufacturers’ side would impact any future relationship. It is good to know the situation with Boeing now seems amicable.
Second-largest 777X customer
This reaffirmed commitment means that Qatar is still in line to be the second-largest operator of the Triple Seven X. Even though Qatar’s Gulf-competitor Emirates has transformed its initial order for 150 to 115 plus some 787-9 Dreamliners, it remains the plane’s largest customer.
While Emirates is most likely keen to wrestle its pre-pandemic title of the “world’s largest international carrier” back from Qatar, it will endeavor to do so with a slightly smaller seat capacity than intended.
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Of course, for the delay of the initial delivery of the new version of Boeing’s top-selling widebody aircraft, no special deals need to be made. The first jet was originally intended for delivery to launch customer Lufthansa in 2021. However, durability issues with the GE Aviation GE9X engines, the largest ever on a commercial airliner, delayed the program.
Boeing had initially intended to perform the first test-flight in mid-2019. Meanwhile, due to the engine troubles and a massively failed stress test that ripped the fuselage apart, it was pushed back until early 2020. Meanwhile, the manufacturer now has three of the planes up in the air, with the latest one meant to go to Lufthansa.
What do you think of Qatar’s decision to stand by its large 777X order? Is it the right choice under current circumstances? Will we see further delays or will Boeing make the 2022 deliveries? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.