Doha financial center skyline at sunrise, Qatar.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Qatar Airways announced today at a press conference in Washington, D.C., a major order of 30 Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners, 10 777-300ERs and a Letter of Intent for 60 737 MAXs in a deal valued at $18 billion at list prices.

Today’s announcement builds on Qatar Airways’ current fleet of 84 Boeing aircraft, a combination of 787s and 777s. The new order, increases Qatar Airways firm order backlog of Boeing widebodies to 105, including 60 777Xs.

The order is a welcome development for Boeing, which has struggled to take 777 orders this year, with just 16 firm orders (including the one from today.)

Last January, Boeing announced a reduction of over 15% in its 777 production rate to take place from 2017 onwards, taking it to 84 (7 / month), in order to adjust the existing gap ahead of the forthcoming 777X program, expected to enter into full production by 2021.

According to Scott Hamilton, from Leeham News and Comment, Boeing would need to sell over 200 777s to bridge such gap.

The 737 MAX Letter of Intent came as a somewhat of surprise, considering that the Doha-based carrier ordered 50 A320neo-family aircraft, and was due to receive the first plane last year. But delays caused by technical issues have meant that not a single aircraft has been delivered to Qatar Airways yet.

Akbar Al Baker, Qatar Airways GCEO (Left) and Ray Conner, CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes at the signing ceremony. (Credits: Author)
Akbar Al Baker, Qatar Airways GCEO (Left) and Ray Conner, CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes at the signing ceremony. (Credits: Author)

When asked about the status of the A320neo order, Qatar Airways’ GCEO Mr. Akbar Al Baker confirmed that the airline will maintain the order, despite the cancellation of the first deliveries.

“We never renege on the contracts we sign. We have a deal for 50 A320neos, and we will continue with it,” Al Baker said.

According to Al Baker, the order announced today will  help Qatar Airways with its expanding network. The GCEO commented that Airbus is not delivering the A320neo at the delivery rate Qatar Airways would require. “So to mitigate that, we had no choice but to order reliable 737s, which will help us to meet with the demand,” Al Baker stated.

“We are known for our long-haul network, but we are in need of aircraft for short-haul flights. We intend to build an even great schedule to connect those populations to our global network.”

Qatar Airways’ relationship with Boeing dates back from 2006. Since then, there have been many milestones in the partnership. The airline was the first to operate the 787 in the Middle East and is a launch customer for the 777X.

“We rely on the Boeing fleet to handle our long-haul flying. We need comfortable aircraft for our customers and Boeing delivers,” Al Baker said. “The 777 and 787 meet our needs.”

New Business Class to be Unveiled in 2017

During the press conference, Al Baker also announced the unveiling of his carrier’s new business class product in the first quarter of 2017 after the delays in the deliveries of the aircraft. “We wanted to shift the unveiling so our competitors won’t get too much of a shock.” Al Baker said.

In the short history of Qatar Airways, it has become one of five 5-star rated airlines in the world, said Al Baker. “We’re always one of the top 10 airlines in the world and in the last five years, we’ve either been the best or runner up as the top airline in the world,” he said.