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Qatar suspends aircraft deliveries

written by Hannah Dowling | June 18, 2020
AUCKLAND NEW ZEALAND February 6, 2017. A Qatar Airwayas 777 arrived at Auckland International Airport today to begin the new direct service from Doha to Auckland. (Mike Millett)
A Qatar Airwayas 777 arrived at Auckland International Airport today from Doha. (Mike Millett)

With over 200 aircraft already on order over the next number of years, Qatar has drawn a hard line with manufacturers Boeing and Airbus, stating the airline will be refusing to take on any new plane deliveries over the next two to three years.

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the airline has demanded that all planes currently on order to be delivered within the next three years be pushed back, for up to 10 years.

The airline has also stated that no new orders for aircraft will be placed for at least two years.

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Qatar has already placed over 200 aircraft on order, including 50 A321neos and 27 new A350s from Airbus, as well as 30 787-9 Dreamliners, 50 new 777-9s and 10 777-8s from Boeing, with the carrier initially supposed to receive a record-breaking 40 aircraft before the year was out.

The airline’s chief executive Akbar Al Baker told Sky News that instead, the airline will not be accepting any new planes on order from manufacturers before 2022, and will not be making any new orders prior to this date either.

“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 10 years.”

Akbar Al Baker, CEO of Qatar Airways since 1997. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

The chief executive reiterated his previous warnings to Boeing and Airbus that should the manufacturers not “oblige” with these deferral requirements, he would be forced to “review” the airline’s “long-term business relationship with them”.

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Al Baker noted that the carrier is instead currently preparing to downsize its fleet by about 25 per cent in light of the global travel downturn, but noted that deliveries may be rescheduled earlier than anticipated, should demand levels pick up.

“As the business ramps up and traffic increases, then yes, we will bring forward those delayed aircraft deliveries,” he said.

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