Qatar Airways, Boeing 737 MAX deal finally takes off

Qatar Airways operates more than 120 Boeing airplanes, including 777 and 787 passenger jets.

Qatar Airways finalised an order for 25 Boeing 737 MAX 10 single-aisle passenger jets worth $3.3 billion on Thursday at the Farnborough Airshow, consolidating a deal which had been at stalemate for months.

The move brought the order for this single-aisle jet model to 125 this week.

The news was revealed by Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker on the fourth day of the airshow, held in Farnborough southwest of London.

“The 737-10 is ideally suited for Qatar Airways’ regional network and will provide the carrier with the most capable, most fuel-efficient planes in its class,” said Stan Deal, president and CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes, as quoted by reports.

A preliminary version of the order was initially signed in Washington in January. However, it later lapsed, according to the Gulf carrier, Reuters reported.

Al Baker inked the 737 MAX deal before reporters during a ceremony slowed down by “last-minute negotiations” between the airline, Boeing, and engine makers.

Boeing scrambled to pick up a sale momentum for its crisis-hit MAX jet family, which is currently facing difficulties in the market amid and uncertain future as the American planemaker scurries to get it certified ahead of the regulatory changes in December.

This week’s event in Farnborough has witnessed Boeing bag orders and make “re-announcements as it recovers from a slew of regulatory and industrial problems”.

However, analysts claim that Boeing’s arch-rival Airbus appeared to have been under less pressure to showcase its deals as it moves towards being partially sold out.

Boeing Commercial Airplanes Chief Executive Stan Deal said on Tuesday the MAX had been “rebooted” after a safety crisis, noting a Delta Air Lines order for 100 MAX 10 in a hefty $13.5 billion deal, with an option for 30 more on Monday.

The MAX aircraft had suffered two deadly crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia, in 2018 and 2019 respectively, killing a combined total of 346 people.

The disasters prompted the temporary global grounding of the jet before making a return to service in late 2020.

Qatar Airways has 74 of the 777X order with Boeing, Al Baker said during a briefing at the Farnborough air show on Monday.

However, the US planemaker’s 777X jets is years behind schedule and bogged in production and certification issues.

The finalisation of the deal also comes after Airbus cancelled a multi billion dollar order of 50 single aisle A321neo jets from Qatar Airways earlier this year.

Both the MAX 10 and the A321neo are in the same classification of narrow-body planes.

Described as an “exceptionally rare” public conflict in the aviation industry, the legal dispute between Qatar Airways and Airbus has cleared the way for Boeing to provide the state-airline with freighters.

In July last year, Boeing and Airbus found themselves in a competitive race when the airlines announced its willingness to put pen to cheque for new and larger freighters, should either manufacturer make their newest models available into cargo versions.

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