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Tue, Feb 01, 2022

Qatar Selects Boeing 777X Freighter

Amid Dispute with Airbus, Boeing Wins Coveted Order 

Qatar Airways has placed a firm order for 34 of Boeing's new 777-8 freighters, with an option for 16 more, in a deal that essentially marks the end of the airline's rocky love affair with Airbus.

The agreement included an additional MoU for up to 50 737-10s, the largest Max variant. The carrier's choice of the Boeing aircraft comes after a volley of lawsuits between Qatar Airways and Airbus over manufacturing quality and paint flaws in its fleet of A350s in a London High Court. 

The White House signing ceremony, a headliner event of US/Qatari relations, was attended by the US Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo and the CEOs of both Boeing and Qatar Airways, Stan Deal and Akbar Al Baker. Those present may have seen a watershed moment in the eternal Boeing/Airbus duel, a victory for Boeing as it converts one of its rival's biggest customers. The shift has been telegraphed for years, as the notoriously picky Qatar Airways has long threatened to go to the other side should Airbus slacken on its courtship of them. The hints at jumping ship have ranged from insistence on replacing sub-par aspects on delivered aircraft to discounted pricing for aircraft purchases. It may have seemed like an empty assertion, given the trouble of jumping ship for an entirely different aircraft ecosystem, but Qatar has proved they have the gumption to see it through. The total between all aircraft, at first glance, totals up to 50 777-8 freighters, as well as 50 737-10s, should the options be fully exercised. After including the addition of 2 current 777s, Qatar could be said to have purchased 102 aircraft in a single day. 

The firm order makes Qatar Airways, one of the largest cargo carriers in the world, the launch customer for the brand new 777-8 freighter, a deal valued at more than $20 billion at list price. The plane will be the world's largest twin-engine cargo jet with the greatest payload capacity, blending twin-engine economy, emissions, and operating costs with the payload and spaciousness of  its older, quad-engine forebears.

In a time of increasingly stringent environmental standards, the 25% improvement in fuel efficiency and corresponding emissions reduction is invaluable for continued use in a long lived aircraft. The -8 offers a range of 4,410 nm with a max payload of 130 tons, impressive capability for use in the invigorated air cargo industry. In addition to the factory-fresh aircraft, Qatar set itself up to convert 20 of its 60 777X family orders to the 777-8, even adding purchase rights for another 25 planes. In order to meet the high demand for air cargo, an order for 2 current-spec 777 freighters has also been placed for delivery ahead of the new 777-8 expected to be delivered in 2027.

In addition to the banner news of a new Boeing model launch, Qatar Airways also joined the fold of 737 Max operators with the purchase of 25 737-10 planes, with purchase rights for another 25 should they choose to exercise them. The largest model of the 737, the -10 seats up to 230 passengers in a single-class configuration, boasting a range up to 3,300 miles. The economical Max was welcomed by Qatar CEO Baker, who said "Qatar Airways very much looks forward to adding the 737-10 to its fleet, with this new variant of the 737 being ideally suited to our short-haul network, allowing us an opportunity to further enhance our product offering for our customers, modernize our fleet and operate the most efficient aircraft in its category."

FMI: www.qatarairways.com, www.boeing.com

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