No take-off as Qatar cancels new orders

The loop-the-loop world of aircraft sales has come into focus with Qatar Airway’s apparent cancellation of a significant US$5bn order from Boeing.

  • E-Mail
By  Boyd Farrow Published  September 3, 2006

The loop-the-loop world of aircraft sales has come into focus with Qatar Airway’s apparent cancellation of a significant US$5bn order from Boeing. In July Qatar, which operates an all-Airbus fleet, ordered 20 Boeing 777s, including 14 Boeing 777-300ERs and six B777-200LRs Worldliners, in a deal worth nearly Dh18 billion ($4.9bn), according to a statement issued by Boeing. The deal appeared to mark the American company’s first major firm order from the Middle East this year, and takes its total 2006 order book to 496 so far. Boeing last year secured firm orders for 1,029 aircraft - a record in aviation history. It also marked Qatar Airways’ first firm order to Boeing and marked a fundamental shift in the airline’s future fleet plan. The airline was due to take delivery of its new Boeing 777s in 2007. For Boeing, this would have been a major win from an all-Airbus customer, which last year announced the intention to buy up to 60 A350s. Akbar Al Baker, Qatar’s chief executive, said in a statement: “I know our passengers will be thrilled seeing the Boeing 777 in Qatar Airways’ livery and they can look forward to our maximising comfort across our network, but particularly on new long-haul routes.” The airline was scheduled to hold a press conference to announce this at last month’s Farnborough Airshow, a biennial UK event -- in alternate years, the industry gathers at Le Bourget, outside Paris. The announcement from Qatar was cancelled however and Boeing has since removed the press release from its website. Qatar Airways is now saying that no contract had been signed with Boeing and that it is still in negotiations with both manufacturers. John Leahy chief commercial officer of Airbus was quoted in specialist magazine Aviation Business earlier this month as saying: “It’s not over yet,” said, adding that he was under the impression Qatar was looking to order two types of his company’s aircraft. On the eve of the Farnborough event, Richard Aboulafia, an aerospace analyst at Teal Group in Washington, said that much would be made of orders from big buyers such as Emirates, though these should be taken with a grain of salt. Often they bear “only the flimsiest relationship to commercial reality”, he said. Airbus, for example, announced a 60-plane order from Qatar Airways at Paris last year. Nothing has come of it. Boeing has also boasted of ‘orders’ that are less than firm.

Add a Comment

Your display name This field is mandatory

Your e-mail address This field is mandatory (Your e-mail address won't be published)

Security code