Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker officially endorsed the Boeing 777-9X yesterday here in Farnborough by converting the 50-airplane memorandum of understanding announced at the Dubai Air Show last year to a firm order. A separate agreement to take purchase rights for another fifty 777-9Xs could increase the value Qatar’s investment from $18.9 billion to $37.7 billion at list prices. Finally, Al Baker also announced his intention to order four 777 Freighters and place options on another four.
Akbar Al Baker
Bombardier Business Aircraft has two aircraft on display at Abu Dhabi Air Expo, both flying the colors of owners from the Gulf region. One is a Challenger 605, managed by Sharjah’s Gulf Wings and being shown on behalf of an unidentified Kuwaiti owner.
Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker believes the only way to solve the growing ATC congestion problems in the Middle East is to develop a single air traffic management system similar to Eurocontrol’s Single European Sky concept. Qatar is among several countries in the region searching for a congestion solution to support regional airline expansion plans.
Keen to show his airline can operate as a profitable carrier amid assertions that it survives on the largesse of its government benefactors, Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker offered revealing insights at last month’s Dubai Airshow into some of the internal machinations and brinkmanship that shape aircraft purchase negotiations. The colorful and sometimes controversial Al Baker played coy about his interest in the 777X while fully intending to engage Boeing in serious negotiations that eventually led to a blockbuster sale.
Energized by the explosive growth in the Middle East air transport market, Qatar Airways has turned its attention to Scandinavia as it extends Boeing 787 services to Stockholm on August 1, to be followed a month later to both Copenhagen and Oslo.
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 Executive is investing in the development of a private jet terminal at Doha’s Hamad International Airport. The opening of the new gateway for airline service has been delayed, following a failure to achieve the planned “soft opening” on April 1, but this appears not to be holding back plans to serve business aviation traffic there.
Qatar Airways’ private jet division, Qatar Executive, has received European Air Safety Agency Part 145 approval to provide maintenance and repair services for Bombardier business jets from its hub in Doha. Qatar Executive is already certified by Qatar’s Civil Aviation Authority for similar work.
The only big-three Middle East airline player to have an executive jet operation, Qatar Executive is expanding its fleet, preparing for the opening of its FBO at New Doha International Airport in 2014, and increasing destination options for its customers.
The outspoken chief executive of Qatar Airways, an increasingly influential player in the world airline market, blamed the long-running battle over airline participation in Europe’s emissions trading scheme (ETS) on the former leader of the association that represents world airlines.
- Page 1