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
It’s interesting that Qatar Airways has become the launch customer of the Boeing 777X Freighter
Qatar Airways was due to be the launch customer for the 777X passenger variant. Then in early 2021 Akbar al-Baker said the situation had changed, and another airline would fly the 777X first.
“No, we won’t be the first one to operate the aircraft, it will be someone else” Akbar al-Baker said in an interview. He was unperturbed by the change, saying it was for the best. “They (the new 777X launch airline) can be the guinea pig, and then we will get the benefit.”
Will be interesting to see how this all plays out…
I would say the real winner was Airbus in this dispute. They have got rid of a difficult and childish customer who is always whining and whinging about something, on this occasion it is paint. He has refused all Airbus attempts to fix the problem and it’s unclear what he wants because he won’t engage with them The case is in the UK courts and they take a very dim view of a plaintiff who has failed to engage with the other party prior to going to court so Al-Baker is already on a loser.
The loser is Boeing. It is no time since Al-Baker was in a heated dispute with them over the quality of the 789 and he was refusing deliveries of it. Have those at Boeing got such short memories. Al-Baker won’t change, very soon Boeing will be the subject of his ire once again and bear in mind he has ordered two planes that are not yet even certified as airworthy – and who knows, may not be in which case just imagine the Al-Baker fall out then.
The only real problem is Al-Baker, a problem to both Airbus and Boeing and perhaps Boeing need to take a similar stand to Airbus and when he next throws his toys out of his cot which he will, cancel his orders and refuse to deal with Qatar until he is replaced. Airbus are well out of it and good luck to Boeing, they will need it.
If Boeing had any sense, they would have declined to sell the 777 to Qatar. Al Baker is a pain in the backside of any supplier unfortunate enough to have to deal with him. If the two big players had had the nerve to both say “NO” then the rebalancing of the market would have been good for everyone (except Qatar Airways).
Still, I’m sure that the Russians would be happy to do a deal on TU-204s and MC-21s.
Agree with JH above, while Boeing did ink some new and badly-needed orders from QR, the biggest winner is Airbus. They have ride themselves of their biggest PITA customer and are probably secretly happy that al Baker and Boeing are left to embrace each other in the loser’s bracket of the airliner competitions.
Given all of its internal quality problems that have led to the 737 MAX fiasco, 777X certification delays, and 787 production halt, Boeing may be setting itself up for future failure.
This part from al Baker made me chuckle… “We certainly push Boeing hard to deliver upon our expectations, and the team at Boeing consistently strives to meet and exceed our expectations…” Not sure if that quip is best classified as ironic or funny.
Biden designated Qatar a non-NATO ally. As in, we are not obligated to commit our entire military to any attack on the country. BIG Difference. It’s still home to the Central Command and the largest military base outside the US so we are basically going to have to respond to any attack anyway but it’s not covered by Rule 5 like Poland.
Good for Boeing! Airbus is the worst!
This isn’t good for Airbus – incredible to see some people try to spin it as much. This may not be great for Boeing either, however, if QR continues it’s seemingly whiney behavior. That said, I’m guessing Boeing has drawn up an ironclad contract that insulates them from this,
Airbus screwed up with a major customer and was effectively fired (and basically muttered ‘you cant fire me I quit’ on the way out). It’s a black mark no matter what the fanboys might attempt to say.
So funny how Airbus fans try to spin this as positive…LOL. You just lost a 30 Billion dollar order and one of the fastest growing premium airlines in the world ‘literally hates you’… Al Baker will be on his best behavior with Boeing knowing he has nowhere else to go for commercial aircraft.
Except that Airbus have a nice, fat waiting list for the aeroplanes that they chose not to sell to QR. They will already have the production line slots allocated to other airlines.
No loss to them at all, just happy customers elsewhere
That’s hardly a good negotiating position, is it!