Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker is upbeat on the market, having ordered nine Boeing 777-300ERs, valued at $2.8 billion (at list prices), of which seven are options. “When we say options, we always make them firm orders,” he said. “Options [simply] give us the flexibility of moving up delivery dates.”
Al Baker said the new aircraft would allow the airline to open new long-haul routes to the U.S. Two of the new jets will be delivered in early 2014.
Qatar Airways has ordered 60 787s, with the sixth delivery having flown directly from Seattle for the carrier’s Paris Air Show debut. Bakar told AIN that it was likely some of the orders could be changed to 787-900s. Magnanimous about the recent lithium-ion battery problems faced by the 787, he said it was unfair of the FAA to have grounded the airplanes. “A new aircraft program always has teething problems,” he said. “[It was] promptly resolved by Boeing.”
While Qatar Airways is interested in Bombardier’s C-Series and discussions are on with the Canadian manufacturer, he added, “We want it to fly first and [see] the outstanding performance promised when we negotiated with them.” Al Bakar said he was also meeting with Embraer about its airliners. Meanwhile, the carrier in the process of integrating its systems into the OneWorld alliance and will join the group in October.