June 17, 2013
Qatar Airways is interested in becoming a launch customer for the Boeing 777-9X.
Qatar’s CEO Akbar al Baker told journalists on the sidelines of the Paris air show that he would sign a deal “if we can iron out all the requirements” and define performance specifications. Al Baker did not say how many aircraft he would like to order.
The airline is only interested in the -9X and not the -8X, “because the [Airbus] A350-1000 will do most of the missions the -8X does,” he says. But he points out that other airlines may think differently, particularly if they need more range for ultra-long-haul flights.
The Qatar Airways CEO is confident the -9X will actually exceed performance targets, just like the 777-300ER did. Qatar would not have ordered more 777-200LRs had it known that the -300ER would do all the missions required by the airline, he notes.
By contrast, al Baker is not interested in the 787-10X and says he is not even talking to Boeing about it. He is, however, discussing converting options from a previous 787 order into firm contracts. Qatar has asked Boeing to identify possible delivery slots, but is not interested in the aircraft if Boeing cannot find early delivery slots. Qatar has ordered 30 787s with options for 30 more, and the airline is understood to be able to choose between the -8 and the larger -9 when it firms these up.
Al Baker says he is very confident Airbus will meet the delivery schedule on the A350, for which his airline is a launch customer. In his opinion, the flight-test team’s willingness to retract the landing gear on last week’s first flight shows the confidence Airbus has in the aircraft.
Qatar is still considering an order for the Bombardier CSeries, which is much-delayed now. “But we want to see it fly first by the end of the month and we want to see how many other orders they are getting,” he adds.
The airline plans to take delivery of its first of ten Airbus A380s in March, 2014. The aircraft will be used on the London route and on ultra-long-haul flights, although not to Los Angeles. The carrier has selected the 575-ton maximum take-off weight version, which Airbus has been offering since the beginning of the year.
Al Baker is also interested in adding more A330s to its fleet, but insists Airbus has to make more pricing concessions, as the aircraft “is becoming a little bit vintage.”