Qatar’s national carrier is in “advanced talks” with aircraft manufacturer Boeing to buy up to 30 737 Max and 737NG airplanes, the airline’s CEO has said.
Speaking to journalists at the Farnborough Airshow in the UK, Akbar Al Baker added that Qatar Airways “still had a few things to iron out” over the deal to buy a mix of the two narrow-bodied aircraft variants.
If the airline does go ahead with the order, it will be a brand new fleet for Qatar Airways, which currently operates three other Boeing types – 777s, 747s and 787s.
Like the A320s, the aircraft would be useful for both short- and medium-haul flights, for example to Dubai and India.
The talks are likely in response to the carrier’s ongoing dispute with rival manufacturer Airbus over lengthy delivery delays of its new narrow-body A320neo.
The airline had been scheduled to take delivery of the first of up to 80 A320neos by the end of 2015.
However, Qatar Airways rejected an initial delivery of the aircraft due to issues with how the engines performed at high temperatures, such as those commonly experienced in Doha.
And in April, Al Baker said the carrier could walk away from its order after finding problems with the plane’s hydraulics and software.
Speaking at Farnborough yesterday, Al Baker said “it was not clear” if he would need to cancel further A320neo orders.
Speaking to CNBC, he said:
“You can’t imagine how upset I am when I wake up in the morning and know that I am still short of airplanes and i have so much demand of passengers to operate into those new markets.”
Also this week, Qatar Airways announced that it will acquire up to 10 percent of LATAM Airlines Group, Latin America’s leading airline group.
Al Baker said this would entail a $613 million investment. In a statement, he added:
“LATAM represents an exciting opportunity to invest and support the development of our long-term relationship. As a leading airline in Latin America, and key member of oneworld, this investment provides potential opportunities for Qatar Airways’ global network, alongside our successful investment in IAG.”
The companies expect the transaction to be completed within the fourth quarter of 2016, Reuters reports.