Qatar Airways will not be taking any new aircraft this year or next, the airline’s Chief Executive Akbar al-Baker said in an interview today. Furthermore, those jets on order scheduled to be delivered within the next two or three years will, in turn, be pushed back for as much as eight or ten years.
Pushed back as much as ten years
2020 was supposed to be a big year for Qatar’s fleet expansion. The oneworld member had been hoping to receive a record-breaking 40 aircraft before the year was out, despite posting losses for 2018. But, as we know, even the best-laid plans can come to naught, especially when pandemics are involved.
Qatar Airways’ CEO Akbar al-Baker said today, in an interview with Sky News, that his airline will not be accepting any new planes until 2022. He also added that there would be further push-backs as aircraft scheduled to join the fleet from 2022 onwards could have to wait as long as ten years.
“Quite a lot of (deliveries) will be deferred. We have already notified both Boeing and Airbus that we will not be taking any airplanes this year or next year,” al-Baker said in the interview.
“All the other aircraft that we have on order that was supposed to be delivered to us within the next two or three years will now be pushed back to as long as nearly eight to ten years,” he continued.
Demand could bring them back forward
Delaying new aircraft makes sense as Qatar is preparing to downsize its fleet by about 25% in the wake of the corona-crisis. However, al-Baker did open up for bringing the delivery dates for the later aircraft back forward, should demand pick up enough before then.
“As the business ramps up and traffic increases, then yes, we will bring forward those delayed aircraft deliveries.”
In total, Qatar has over 200 aircraft on order in a mix of narrow- and widebody jets. From Airbus, it has orders and letters of intent for 50 A321neos and 27 new A350s.
Boeing was set to provide the carrier with more than 80 planes in the coming years, among these 30 787-9 Dreamliners. The airline also has an order for 50 of the new 777-9s, with options for 50 more. In addition, it was going to take ten 777-8s.
Tough stance in negotiations
Furthermore, al-Baker reiterated Qatar’s firm stance towards its plane-making business partners. He repeated his warning that a refusal to go along with the airline’s request would seriously jeopardize future dealings.
“If they don’t oblige to our requirements, (then) we will have to review our long term business relationships with them,” he said, adding that Qatar had already informed Boeing it would not be taking the 30 737 MAXs it had on order for Air Italy.