Qatar Airways has decided to place orders worth US$15.2bn with both Airbus and Boeing to meet its growing aircraft requirements.


Negotiations are under way with Airbus and Boeing but subject to the resolution of certain important outstanding issues with each manufacturer, the airline will shortly commit to the purchase of a large fleet of Airbus A350 and Boeing 777 aircraft.


Qatar Airways chief executive officer Akbar Al Baker announced this decision at a press conference held on the sidelines of the Paris Air Show. He said the Airbus order would be worth US$10.6bn and the Boeing order US$4.6bn.


In the case of the Airbus A350, the purchase will comprise up to 60 units of the A350-800 and the A350-900 variants. The Airbus A350 was chosen over the Boeing 787 after very extensive analysis. The decision apparently was very hard to make as both aircraft showed strong advantages in different areas. In the end, the existence of the Airbus A330 in Qatar Airways’ current fleet and slightly more advantageous commercial terms led the company to believe that the A350 would be the optimum choice, said Al Baker.


Airbus A350 aircraft will be delivered between mid-2010 and 2015 – first to supplement and then replace the A330 – as the airline’s small-to-medium-size wide body aircraft. The enhanced range and flexibility of this new generation aircraft will allow Qatar Airways to use the A350 on missions ranging from short-haul regional services to long-haul operations to the Far East, Europe and North America from its operational hub of Doha, added Al Baker.


Qatar Airways intends to purchase at least 20 Boeing B777 aircraft of three variants, the B777-300ER, B777-200LR and B777-200F. It is Qatar Airways’ intention to make the B777 the airline’s standard large wide body, with the B777-300ER likely to account for around half of the orders. Qatar Airways’ initial B777 order would be delivered to the airline between 2007 and 2010. The B777-300ER will allow capacity growth on the airline’s rapidly-growing and airport slot-constrained routes, whereas the B777-200LR will be allocated to new routes to North America and Australasia.


The exceptional range capability and economics of the B777-200F freighter will supplement Qatar Airways’ existing medium-haul Airbus A300-600R freighter fleet and facilitate the strong cargo growth it anticipates with the opening of the new Doha International Airport in 2009.