Dubai: Qatar Airways said on Monday it has placed an order for nine Boeing 777-300ERS (extended range) aircraft at the 2013 Paris Air Show in a deal valued at $2.8 billion (Dh10.3 billion) at current list prices. The order includes a firm order for two aircraft plus a commitment for an additional seven planes, the Doha-based airline said in a statement.
It added that the two firm planes give Qatar Airways a backlog of nine Boeing 777s, and when the additional seven become firm, the backlog will rise to 16. Qatar Airways currently operates 35 Boeing passenger and cargo 777s of various types, including 22 777-300ERs, nine 777-200LR (longer range) airplanes and four 777 Freighters.
The new order will enable Qatar Airways to operate more direct, non-stop flights to destinations in markets, including Australasia and the United States, according to the airline’s chief executive, Akbar Al Baker.
“We have already shown a desire to open up new destinations in the US, and the Boeing 777 will further feature in our expansion plans in this part of the world,” he said in a statement.
While the two aircraft on firm order will be delivered in early 2014, options for the other seven are likely to be firmed up shortly after, with the delivery schedule to be decided then, Al Baker was quoted by news agencies as saying while addressing reporters at a press conference in Le Bourget.
Demand for Boeing 777Xs
The move comes after Qatar Airways’ chief told Gulf News in an interview in May that the airline is exploring plans for 50 Boeing 777Xs — the new updated version of the 777s being developed by Boeing.
“We are very interested in the new 777X aircraft being developed by Boeing. We are looking at anywhere between 40 and 50 aircraft of the type,” Al Baker had said, adding the airline would be looking to replace its existing fleet of 45 Boeing 777s — in operation and in the pipeline — (including 777-ERs-extended range and 777-LRs-long range) with the new type.
He also said that Qatar Airways had initiated talks with Boeing and that the 777Xs will be offered somewhere “between 2020 and 2022”.
Qatar Airways currently operates a fleet of 125 aircraft to 128 destinations across Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia Pacific and the Americas. Having taken the delivery of its first Boeing 777 in November 2007, the carrier in September 2011 received a 777-200LR that became the 100th airplane to join its fleet.