LONDON – Qatar Airways (QR) has agreed on delivery deferrals for aircraft ordered by aerospace giant Airbus. The airline currently has around 27 A350-1000 and 50 A321neo aircraft on order from the manufacturer.

Back in June, the airline stated that it would not take anymore aircraft for delivery between 2020 and 2021.

Qatar also stated that deliveries could be deferred for up to ten years, placing significant doubt amongst manufacturers. This is ultimately due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the lack of demand for aircraft.

Qatar Airways Airbus A350-1041 A7-ANE. Photo: Qatar Airways

Al Baker’s Fiery Words

Qatar CEO H.E Mr. Akbar Al Baker announced this at the CAPA Australia Pacific Aviation summit. He specifically commented on this news, stating that changes can be made depending on the demand for air travel.

“We have the ability to bring forward the deliveries if there is a rebound in air travel”. He also commented on the fact that no agreements have yet been made with Boeing regarding deferrals.

“As far as Boeing is concerned we are still in negotiations with them, but regardless of what they feel an aircraft manufacturer needs to oblige customers in difficult times. People who will not oblige and stand with us in this difficult time will not see us again.”

Photo: Qatar Airways

More Potential Damage for Manufacturers?

Whilst Airbus still need to deliver 77 units to the carrier, Boeing may be in even more of a bind. With 60 777X, five 777 Freighters and 23 787-9 Dreamliners still yet to be delivered, that brings the total to nearly 90 units.

With 160 aircraft still yet to be delivered, it does beg the question of QR’s strategy going forward, and how many aircraft it expects to be in the fleet.

Picture by Qatar Airways.

Boeing could be in a more troublesome situation because of Al Baker’s comments, suggesting that Boeing may not be budging on deferrals that easily.

And that could be even more problematic for Boeing, as QR has always had the energy to cancel orders, regardless of the financial burden.

Photo: Qatar Airways

A Strategy of Fleet Reduction

Qatar, like any other carrier in this crisis, is looking at ways to save money. One such method is the use of fleet reduction, which QR has announced regarding its Boeing 777 fleet.

The Boeing 777X will be used to replace the older-generation 777 in the fleet. However, with the delivery deferrals taking place, this strategy of fleet renewal may be a bit of a time away.

Photo: Airbus

2022 FIFA World Cup?

Before COVID-19, readers may remember that the airline was pushing a lot about the 2022 FIFA World Cup, which is being hosted in Doha. The aim initially was to achieve 250 destinations globally by the tournament, which obviously cannot happen because of COVID-19.

With the delay on deliveries, this means that over the next two years at least, the airline will operate on a limited route network.

This ultimately does mean that the airline will aim to achieve as many destinations as possible, with no exact number given.

Strong Positioning

Looking ahead, the strategy taken out by Mr. Al Baker shows the strong position of the airline. With deferrals on deliveries taking place, it means additional cash flow for the carrier, which will be used to restart route networks.

It will be interesting ultimately to see whether any deferral deals with Boeing are made, and if so, until when.

For Boeing, it is in its best interests to strike this deal. Otherwise, a deal for nearly 90 jets could disappear from its eyes.

Featured Image: Qatar Airways Airbus A350-1000. Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons