The chief executive of Qatar Airways has confirmed that the Doha-based airline will not take delivery of any new aircraft for the remainder of 2020 and all of 2021. Akbar Al Baker also cautioned that some aircraft that were due to be delivered within the next few years could be delayed for as long as a decade because of the longterm slump in demand caused by the Corona crisis.
“We have already notified both Boeing and Airbus that we will not be taking any aeroplanes this year or next year,” Baker told Sky News on Wednesday. “All the other aircraft that we have on order that were supposed to be delivered to us in the next two to three years will be pushed back for as long as nearly eight to ten years,” he continued.
Offering some glimmer of hope, however, the airline boss suggested Qatar Airways might be willing to take delivery of unwanted aircraft sooner if the aviation industry recovers from the pandemic faster than most forecasts suggest. “As the business ramps up and the traffic increases, yes, we will bring forward those delayed aircraft deliveries,” Baker said without indicating how soon such a decision might come.
But reiterating a threat to rival aircraft manufacturers Airbus and Boeing, the often outspoken aviation executive again suggested he would stop buying aircraft off them altogether if they refuse to defer aircraft deliveries that were expected over the next two years. “Both of them… that if they don’t oblige to our requirements that we will have to review our longterm business relationships with them,” he warned.
Qatar Airways has around 160 aircraft on order with Boeing and Airbus in deals worth billions of dollars. In the next few years, the airline is expected to take delivery of 29 Airbus A350-1000 aircraft and was meant to be one of the first airlines to operate the next-generation Boeing 777X.
The disagreement between airlines and aircraft manufacturers over who should bear the financial burden of unwanted and unneeded planes has led Guillaume Faury, the chief executive of Airbus to make his own threat, suggesting legal action could be taken against airlines that refuse to fulfil contracts.
The rebuke by Faury is a rare and unusual move but just goes to prove how much strain the COVID-19 pandemic is putting the aviation industry under right.
Qatar Airways recently told staffers that it might need to cut its 46,000 global workforce by as much as 20 per cent in response to the current crisis. Hundreds of cabin crew and ground staff have already been laid and pilots were recently informed they too would face mass redundancies.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.