In the increasingly messy legal tussle between Qatar Airways and European aircraft manufacturer Airbus, there was bound to be only one real winner, Boeing. And just like that, the U.S. aerospace giant secured a multi-billion-dollar deal with Doha-based Qatar Airways for as many as 102 jets.
The deal was signed at a special ceremony at the White House in Washington D.C. on Monday which was attended by senior Biden administration and Boeing officials, alongside Qatar’s ambassador to the United States, Sheikh Mishaal bin Hamad Al Thani and, of course, Qatar Airways chief executive Akbar Al Baker.
The order comprises up to 50 next-generation 777X freighter aircraft of which Qatar Airways will be the launch customer, along with 50 single-aisle 737MAX10 jets. The remaining two aircraft are for Boeing’s current generation of 777 freighter planes.
Just a few short months ago, it appeared a sure bet that Airbus would be the aircraft manufacturer that raked in the profits by supplying Qatar Airways with freighter and single-aisle aircraft for years to come.
Airbus had been tipped to launch its A350 cargo jet with Qatar Airways and had already won a firm order for 50 brand new A321neo aircraft in a deal valued at $6.35 billion at list prices.
The Europeans pulled the plug on the A321neo order in a tit-for-tat move for a lawsuit that Qatar Airways has filed against Airbus in London’s High Court. Akbar Al Baker, meanwhile, had already dismissed a separate order for freighter jets with Airbus because of the legal dispute surrounding dodgy paintwork on some existing A350’s.
So, it appears the spoils of victory will go Boeing.
The order for as many as 50 Boeing 777X freighters is valued at $20 billion alone. The 737MAX10 order is valued at nearly $7 billion, although the deal is just a Memorandum of Understanding which doesn’t commit Qatar Airways to actually seeing through with the order.
The 737MAX is the largest member of the 737 family, capable of carrying as many as 230 passengers in a single-class configuration but it has a shorter range than the Airbus equivalent. Boeing has struggled to find customers for the MAX10, with previous loyalists switching allegiance for Airbus and its wildly popular A321 neo.
Al Baker downplayed the loss of the A321neo, however, saying on Monday that the rival 737MAX10 was “ideally suited” to the Doha-based airline’s short-haul network. Qatar Airways killed off a previous order for up to 60 of the MAX jets after taking delivery of just five aircraft.
The five 737MAX’s that were delivered weren’t even used by Qatar Airways but were loaned to the now-defunct Air Italy operation. Al Baker killed off the order in 2020 as it built its short-haul fleet with Airbus.
Qatar Airways hasn’t committed to a delivery date for the 737MAX but deliveries of the new 777X freighters are expected to begin in 2027.
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.