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Qatar Airways Reaches Deal With Airbus to Delay Aircraft Deliveries; Wants Greater Access to Australia

Qatar Airways Reaches Deal With Airbus to Delay Aircraft Deliveries; Wants Greater Access to Australia

The chief executive of Qatar Airways revealed on Wednesday that the Doha-based airline had reached a deal with European aircraft manufacturer Airbus to delay the delivery of new jets. Akbar Al Baker had previously said his airline would refuse to do business in the future with any company that didn’t agree to defer new purchases because of the drop in travel demand caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Speaking at a CAPA aviation conference, Al Baker reiterated that warning saying aircraft manufacturers “have to oblige their customers in difficult times. They can’t just benefit from us in good times.” Negotiations with rival manufacturer Boeing continue.

“As far as Boeing is concerned we are still in negotiations with them… People who will not oblige and stand with us in this difficult time will not see us again,” Al Baker commented on the ongoing talks.

Qatar Airways has a total of 88 aircraft on order with Boeing, including 60 next-generation 777X which are valued at $422 million each at list value. The airline also has an outstanding order for 23 Dreamliner 787-9’s and 5 freighter 777’s.

Outstanding orders with European aerospace giant Airbus include 50 single-aisle A321neo’s and 27 A350-100 aircraft valued at $366 million each.

In June, Al Baker confirmed that the carrier had no plans to take any deliveries of new jets for the rest of 2020 or in 2021. “We have the ability to bring forward the deliveries if there is a rebound in air travel,” the often outspoken chief executive continued.

Al Baker also told the conference that he hoped Qatar Airways would reap the benefits of maintaining flights to Australia during the height of the pandemic. As other international airlines, notably Emirates and Etihad, grounded flights Qatar Airways was granted permission to operate extra services in order to help in the repatriation effort of stranded Australians.

The current air services agreement between Qatar and Australia limits the airline to just 21 direct services each week. Al Baker said he hoped the Australian government would now consider its “reasonable request” for additional flying rights in a renegotiation of the agreement.

Qatar Airways is now serving 85 destinations with around 550 weekly services. The airline served as many as 160 destinations before the Corona crisis and frequency of services remains much reduced.

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