Saturday, October 8, 2016

Qatar Airways Places $18 Billion Order For Boeing Airliners

Qatar Airways chief executive Akbar Al Baker and Boeing Commercial Airplanes CEO Ray Conner sign agreement.
(Photo: Bill Carey)

Qatar Airways has placed an order with Boeing for 40 787-9 and 777-300ER widebody airliners, plus signed a letter of intent for up to 60 737 Max 8s, which would be the Gulf carrier’s first narrowbody purchase from Boeing in 15 years. The transactions combined are valued at $18.6 billion at list prices.

During a press conference that Qatar Airways hosted in Washington, D.C., on October 7, chief executive Akbar Al Baker said the carrier remains committed to a 50-aircraft package with Airbus for A320neo and A321neo airliners, though it has cancelled initial orders because of delivery delays. “We never renege on contracts that we sign. We have a contract signed with Airbus for 50 neo airplanes, and we will continue to get those airplanes,” he said. “The [Boeing 737] that we are ordering today is to serve the ever-expanding network and we are taking these Max airplanes in order to get a firm delivery schedule.

“As you know the neos are having problems,” Al Baker added, in reference to early problems with Pratt & Whitney PW1100G-powered aircraft. “The airlines that have received them are not getting the quantities that they require because of the ongoing issues with the aircraft. For us, to mitigate our [issues] we have no alternative but to order the reliable 737 family of aircraft, which will fuel our continued demand for growth.”

Boeing Commercial Airplanes CEO Ray Conner, Qatar minister of finance Ali Sharif Al Emadi and U.S. deputy secretary of state Tony Blinken joined Al Baker for the announcement at a Georgetown hotel. Specifically, Qatar Airways ordered 30 787-9 Dreamliners and 10 777-300ERs valued at $11.7 billion. The 60 737 Max 8s would cost $6.9 billion at list price. Plans call for the 737 deliveries to begin next year, Boeing said.

During questioning, Al Baker denied any linkage between the airline’s order and the recently approved U.S. foreign military sale of 36 Boeing F-15 fighters to Qatar. “We don’t relate anything to anything,” he said. “Qatar Airways has an independent policy of ordering airplanes. So nothing is attached to anything.”

Nor was the order influenced by discussions the U.S., Qatari and UAE governments have held over civil aviation agreements between the countries, Al Baker said. The talks were undertaken after U.S. carriers American, United and Delta accused their Gulf counterparts—Qatar Airways, Emirates and Etihad Airways—of anti-competitive practices.

“We don’t attach any orders that we place with Boeing to get any special favors for anybody,” Al Baker said. “We have an air services agreement signed between the United States and my country. We meticulously follow each and every condition and clause of that air services agreement…At the end of the day, the business and commercial and economic relationship between our two countries will prevail and not the vested interest of any business entity.”

(Bill Carey - AINOnline News)

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