Home' Australian Aviation Magazine : January February 2010 Contents 53
JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2010 AUSTRALIAN AVIATION
For many years the airline was a solely
Airbus operator, and its current fleet in-
cludes 24 A320 Family aircraft, 19 A330s,
four A340-600s and three A300-600Fs
for cargo ser vices. However, in 2007 the
first Boeing 777-300ER was delivered to
the airline, with the smaller -200LR since
added for ultra long haul services.
e 777s appear to be in favour with the
airline, which was the launch customer for
the higher gross weight version of the com-
peting A340-600. At a press conference in
March, Al Baker noted that the A340 was
relatively fuel inefficient compared to the
twinjets in its fleet, going so far as to say, "If
I could, I would throw them away."
at may become a possibility, given
the large number of orders that the carrier
has racked up in recent years, including
a number announced at major airshows
around the world. Currently it has an-
nounced orders and options for 80 A350s,
24 A320 Family aircraft, five A380s, 60 787s
and 21 777s (including freighters).
More orders are also coming. "We have
recently placed another small order at the
Dubai Airshow, but I will not announce
this order as we have only signed an MoU
and we will announce the order at the
Farnborough Airshow in the middle of
(2010)," Al Baker told reporters in Mel-
bourne during December.
While many airlines have sought to defer
deliveries, Al Baker's growth strategy will
continue to see the airline take its aircraft
on time. "Over the next few years, Qatar
Airways will be receiving on average over
one aircraft per month, which shows our
confidence in the aviation industry against
the economic situation that has been mak-
ing headlines around the world," he said.
Al Baker explains that with the average
age of the fleet currently at just over three
years he intends to keep new aircraft rolling
through the fleet. "Qatar Air ways will never
keep an aircraft more than five years old
in our fleet. We will always replace those
aircraft with more fuel efficient, state-of-
the-art aeroplanes," he said.
However, Al Baker has also shown that
those orders are not completely firm. At the
2009 Paris Airshow, he openly threatened
to cancel its order for 30 Boeing 787s and
30 options due to the ongoing delays to the
aircraft's development, which have pushed
back first delivery to late 2011.
"Boeing doesn't realise how much
they're hurting their customers' plans,"
he said at the time. " ey're very much
mistaken if they think we're going to give
them much more time on the issue. en
Boeing will be left with a load of parked
planes. It may be that we become an
exclusive Airbus customer."
Despite assurances soon after the air-
show from Boeing and the airline that the
order still stands, Al Baker was still holding
his position at the end of 2009. "I want
my aircraft earlier ... We gave them an
ultimatum to accept the conditions because
they have been continuously delaying the
delivery," he said in an interview with the
BBC in late November.
Assuming its 787s arrive on time, the
subsequent significant new aircraft type to
enter the fleet will be its A380s, with de-
liveries of the first of the five set for 2012.
e airline has revealed few details about
the aircraft, but it is expected that they will
be luxuriously appointed, and will initially
be used on ser vices to London, with other
high density routes to follow.
e airline also has orders for 80
A350 XWBs, comprising 20 A350-800s,
40 A350-900s and 20 A350-1000s. e
first delivery is due in 2013.
As well as the significant build-up of
its widebody fleet, Qatar has also been
building up its A320 Family fleet, which
includes 11 A320s, eight A321s and three
A319s (including one A319CJ) which are
powered by IAE V2500s. At June's Paris
Airshow it provided one of that bleak
show's few order highlights when it signed
STRAIGHT SHOOTER Al Baker has developed a
reputation for straight talking. (Qatar Airways)
a firm contract for 24 more A320 Family
aircraft. Most recently, the airline has taken
delivery of a new A320 featuring a new
interior cabin, which features individual
AVOD (audio visual on demand).
A320s aside, Qatar was also identified as
one of the earliest customers to show inter-
est in the Bombardier CSeries. In the press
release announcing its launch, Al Baker
was quoted as saying that the airline would
work quickly to secure an order, although
by December 2009 this appears not to have
been forthcoming due to a disagreement
with Bombardier over prices and perform-
Working against the CSeries may be a
possible re-engining of the A320 with the
Pratt & Whitney PW1000G geared turbo-
fan. Al Baker has publicly expressed inter-
est in such a program, which is rumoured
to be under consideration by Airbus. " is
development would put them at least 10
years ahead of the competition on the
single-aisle aircraft and most definitely kill
the CSeries program," Al Baker said in an
October interview with Bloomberg.
While Qatar Air ways has not been
immune to some of the troubles faced by
other carriers as a result of the global finan-
cial crisis, its relatively small size has meant
that it has been able to buck the tide and
continue to grow.
Helping it is a very strong local economy.
Driven by major gas and oil projects, Qatari
GDP was forecast to grow by 9.4 per cent
during 2009, with double digit growth
forecast for the years ahead.
Al Baker makes it clear that his airline
is only set to grow further. "Our long term
strategy is aggressive. Regardless of the
economic conditions or the financial im-
pacts in the world, Qatar Airways will keep
on growing aggressively."
BUS BUYER Qatar Airways's short haul network is reliant on A320 Family aircraft. The airline signed for 24
more A320 Family aircraft at the last Paris Airshow. (Qatar Airways)
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