Qatar Airways Won’t Retire The Boeing 777 Until The 777X Arrives

News has emerged that Boeing will be delivering Qatar Airways’ new Boeing 777Xs significantly later than first expected. As a result, the airline’s CEO, Akbar al-Baker, has confirmed that it will be delaying the retirement of its Boeing 777s.

Qatar Airways Boeing 777-3DZ A7-BAH
Qatar Airways will have to postpone the retirement of its Boeing 777s. Photo: Paul Evans via Flickr

News of a delay to the Boeing 777X delivery schedule emerged alongside Boeing’s third-quarter results earlier this month. Boeing confirmed that deliveries of the Boeing 777X will reach customers later than expected as a result of delays to the aircraft’s test schedule. This, in turn, has been a result of issues with the aircraft’s General Electric GE9X engines.

The delay to the delivery schedule of the Boeing 777X will have a knock-on effect for the number of customers who have already placed orders. The new delivery schedule won’t see the first Boeing 777X reach customers until early 2021. This had initially been expected to take place in summer 2020.

Qatar Airways’ reaction to the delay

Because of the delay in the delivery schedule of the Boeing 777X, Qatar Airways has had to make some logistical changes. According to reports by Gulf Times, Qatar Airways’ CEO, Akbar al-Baker, was surprised by the extent of the delay.

“Boeing already said it will be late until 2021. I was expecting that it will be late, but not by that much,” he said at the 2019 Trinity Forum in Doha yesterday.

Qatar Airways Boeing 777-300ER
Qatar Airways is looking to the Boeing 777X to reduce its emissions. Photo: Aero Icarus via Flickr

Qatar Airways has been looking at the Boeing 777X as a replacement to the Boeing 777. It currently operates 56 passenger Boeing 777s, as well as 19 freighter versions of the aircraft. According to Akbar al-Baker, Qatar Airways has invested in the new Boeing 777X as it looks to reduce its emissions footprint.

“We want to keep growing, but want to make sure we are not growing our emissions too,” he said.

Akbar al-Baker has previously stated that he wants Qatar Airways to be the first airline to operate the new Boeing 777X, although there have been reports that Lufthansa or Emirates will be the launch customer.

How have other airlines reacted to the delay?

Although Qatar Airways has acknowledged the delay to the Boeing 777X, it was not the first airline to recognize that the Boeing 777X program would likely face issues. Earlier this month, Emirates’ CEO, Tim Clark, voiced his concerns over the delivery schedule for the Boeing 777X.

“By the end of next year we were to have eight of them. Now it doesn’t look like we will have any,” Clark is reported to have said at a conference in Dubai.

While the delay will be an inconvenience for Qatar Airways, it will likely be much more of an issue for Emirates.

A Boeing 777-9 on display
The testing schedule for the Boeing 777X has been delayed due to issues with the General Electric engines. Photo: Dan Nevill via Flickr

The airline is currently by far the biggest customer for the Boeing 777X, having placed 150 out of the total 344 orders for the Boeing 777X (777-8 and 777-9).

Clark also voiced his opinions on the delay in an interview with Skift:

“I say no. I say, ‘you give us airframes and engines that work from day one.’ If you can’t do it, don’t produce them,” he said.

Qatar Airways was not available to respond to Simple Flying’s request for comment on the delay.