As Qatar Airways and Airbus face off in a row that has turned nasty, Boeing has been the primary beneficiary, today securing an order for up to 100 aircraft.
Boeing Scores Huge Qatar Airways Order, Deepening Qatar Rift With Airbus
Qatar’s Emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, met with U.S. President Joe Biden at the White House yesterday. There, the White House announced that Qatar would be designated as a Nato ally, a major victory for an oil-rich nation that has faced an embargo from its Gulf neighbors between 2017 and 2021 for allegedly supporting Islamic terrorism.
To coincide with the White House visit, Boeing and Qatar Airways announced a sizable new aircraft order, which includes Boeing 737 MAX 10 passenger jets and the first-ever Boeing 777X freighter order.
The Qatar Airways – Boeing Deal
A memorandum of understanding signed between Boeing and Qatar Airways includes a deal for:
- Up to 50 Boeing 737 MAX 10 (737-10) aircraft
- 25 confirmed orders for the 737 MAX 10
- 25 options
- Up to 50 Boeing 777X (777-8) freighters
- 34 confirmed orders for the 777-8 freighter
- 16 options
- Two current Boeing 777 freighters
Qatar Airways had earlier ordered 60 777X passenger aircraft. With this new order, 20 of the 60 jets will be converted to cargo jets.
Akbar Al Baker, CEO of Qatar Airways, noted:
“Boeing has a long history of building market-leading freighter aircraft and Qatar Airways is honored to have the opportunity to be the launch customer for the 777-8 Freighter, an aircraft which will not only allow us to further enhance our product offering for our customers, but also help us meet our objectives to deliver a sustainable future for our business.
Today marks a great day in the ever-building and strong relationship between Qatar Airways and Boeing. We certainly push Boeing hard to deliver upon our expectations, and the team at Boeing consistently strives to meet and exceed our expectations, giving the opportunity for us to be here today to launch the most significant new freighter aircraft for a generation.”
The 777-8 freighter will not enter service until at least 2027.
The Airbus Drama Is Not A Bluff…
This is really more about Airbus than Boeing. Qatar Airways already has a narrowbody fleet composed of Airbus jets and the A321, by almost all metrics, make a lot more sense than the 737 MAX, especially the A321XLR which has a range of 4,000 nautical miles (The 737-10 has a range of 3,300 miles).
But Airbus promptly terminated its A321 contract with Qatar Airways in an escalating dispute over paint deterioration on the Airbus A350. While Airbus claims the damage is only cosmetic and regulators in both the U.S. and Europe have backed that assessment, Qatar Airways has insisted the damage is more serious and grounded the majority of its A350 fleet.
With harsh rhetoric coming from Al Baker, Airbus threatened legal action to protect its reputation from an “ongoing mischaracterizations of non-structural surface degradation.” It then cancelled Qatar’s A350 order for 50 Airbus A321neo jets.
The dispute between Airbus and Qatar Airways is a clear win for Boeing…it isn’t clear if Qatar Airways or even consumers will come out ahead (besides the range difference, the 737 MAX 10 is also narrower).
If there were any hopes of reconciliation between Airbus and Qatar Airways, they appear to be even more elusive today than they have ever been.
Boeing walks away the winner, through no action of its own.
image: Qatar Airways