Qatar Airways’ CEO has again laid down a challenge for Boeing and Airbus. The rising cargo star carrier is looking to replace its freighter fleet and says it is ready to place a large order for new aircraft. However, none of the planes it would like to see, the A350F and the 777XF, are officially on the market.
Waiting for freighter variants of newer planes
As airfreight continues to soar and provide much-needed income for airlines in lieu of usual passenger revenue, Qatar Airways says it is ready to click buy on a significant amount of cargo widebodies.
According to Bloomberg, the airline’s Chief Executive Officer, Akbar Al Baker says he would be willing to place a large order for freighter versions of either the Airbus A350 or the Boeing 777X ‘within a month or two’. Granted, of course, that the planemakers will make the models available in cargo configurations.
Qatar already operates 25 Boeing 777-200Fs, along with two 747-8Fs, as well as five 787-9 Dreamliners recently recruited for cargo purposes. Meanwhile, the airline has an ongoing conflict with Airbus. Sources have claimed the issue is with the quality of the paint job on the carrier’s most recently delivered A350s, although the airline’s CEO has denied this.
A350F launch by the end of 2021?
Airbus, looking to challenge Boeing’s hegemony on the cargo aircraft market, has previously stated it is poised to begin accepting orders for a freighter version based on its A350-900 and for the program to launch by the end of the year. However, no official statement as to its actual availability has yet been made, despite the end-of-June marketing launch previously speculated upon.
Since Qatar Airways never stopped flying during the pandemic, it quickly consolidated its position as the largest cargo operator among passenger airlines. In the fiscal year of 2020, the airline transported 1.49 million metric tons of cargo, up from 1.45 million in 2019. This places it second only to FedEx and ahead of logistics giants such as UPS.
Calling on Airbus to ‘resolve issues’
When asked about a potential order for a freighter version of Boeing’s new flagship, the 777X, Al Baker said that he was very excited about the model and that Qatar would be giving such a plane the opportunity along with Airbus freighters. Not one for shying away from public pressure, the Qatar CEO continued,
“That is if Airbus resolves our issues very quickly.”
What do you think would be the best choice for Qatar Airways and its future freight ambitions? Will we see an official A350F launch before the end of the year? Leave a comment below and let us know.