October 29, 2013
Qatar Airways plans to place an order for more aircraft at the upcoming Dubai Air Show, CEO Akbar Al Baker said in Doha on Tuesday.
He declined to identify the models that the airline is evaluating. When asked about the proposed Boeing 777X, Al Baker stated that “we have to wait until the time is right,” thereby not ruling out the possibility of an order for that type.
Etihad Airways and Emirates, the two other big Gulf airlines, are expected to place large orders for the 777X which combined will likely exceed 100 aircraft, but Qatar Airways has so kept quiet about its plans for additional fleet investment. While the airline has a large outstanding order for the Airbus A350 – a total of 80 A350-900s and -1000s – and 22 more Boeing 787-8s coming in, it has taken all but five of its 27 777-300ERs on firm order.
Qatar Airways will receive its first A350-900 in the second half of next year and also the first of 10 A380s currently on firm order. When asked about the A350 schedule, Al Baker jokingly said that “they will deliver on time because they don’t have lithium-ion batteries on board,” referring to the recent grounding of the 787.
The airline is currently taking delivery of a new aircraft every 15 days on average and has a backlog of 175 aircraft, according to Airbus and Boeing statistics, not counting any additional orders to be placed in Dubai.
The Qatar Airways CEO was speaking on the sidelines of a Oneworld event welcoming the airline to the alliance. Qatar Airways is now the first of the three Gulf carriers that has joined one of the three groups. Etihad is building what it calls an “equity alliance” – a group of airlines tied to it through minority shareholdings – while Emirates continues to build its own network and focuses on high-profile bilateral tie-ups such as its deal with Qantas. “The other [alliances] will be knocking on Gulf carrier doors, too, but they have missed the best one,” Al Baker said.
Oneworld CEO Bruce Ashby pointed out that the alliance allows its members to do bilateral deals outside of the group more than its competitors. Alliances that don’t have that flexibility “should go the way of the dinosaurs,” he said.