Qatar Airways is looking to modernize its long-haul fleet, as it has placed large orders for next-generation aircraft in recent years. The Middle Eastern airline has a special focus on the Airbus A350, Boeing 777X and Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft. However, these latter species have experienced a portion of the uncertainty since Qatar placed the demand. But how exactly has the situation evolved since the application was first submitted in 2016?
Strong commitment to fleet modernization
The introduction of the Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner to the Qatar Airways fleet has long been in the pipeline. In October 2016, Boeing announced that along with 10 Boeing 777-300ERs, the airline had placed an order for 30787-9 Dreamliners. The total value of this application is approximately $ 12 billion. The airline was already the operator of the shorter 787-8, with 30 in its fleet flying commercial for the first time in November 2012.
As the launch customer for both types of Airbus A350s, the company also has 28 more Airbus A350-1000s on order. Overall, these requests represent a true statement of intent on Qatar Airways regarding the modernization of its fleet. This commitment is underlined by the fact that it also has plans to retire some long-haul old aircraft in favor of new orders in the coming years.
Reuters, for example, reported in March 2019 that the carrier would begin phasing out its “ giant ” Airbus A380 aircraft once it is 10 years old. This will see withdrawals begin in 2024. May 2019 also saw CH-Aviation report that Qatar plans to phase out its Airbus A330s by 2022. Recent Qatar Airways requests will see the two types be replaced by more modern and efficient aircraft.
Despite this promising commitment, Qatar Airways’s Boeing 787-9 order has undergone various cases since its introduction nearly four years ago. In October 2019, for example, Simple Flying reported that while the aircraft was ready for delivery from Boeing’s perspective, the airline was still waiting to finalize development of its new Qsuite business class seat. This product is set to be launched on the carrier’s new Dreamliners.
On Thursday, December 26, 2019, Qatar appeared ready to accept delivery of the new aircraft. Four of these aircraft were from the Boeing plant at Everett in Pinefield, Washington, to the Qatari capital, Doha. Three others followed on Saturday 28th.
However, as Simple Flying reported at the time, the plane returned directly to the United States after only one day. Instead of Boeing’s Pinefield base, the new Dreamliners flew to a storage facility in Victorville, California. It is believed that the purpose of their flying to Qatar is simply to register them as Qatari aircraft.
After installing Qsuite and other components in Victorville, four of the seven stored aircraft returned to Qatar for delivery on March 31 this year. The remaining three followed soon after. However, this just happened when the ongoing coronavirus pandemic became rampant, bringing commercial air travel to a standstill in nearly all parts of the world.
As such, the launch of the seven Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners that had been delivered has been delayed indefinitely since the end of April. With 23 aircraft remaining yet to be delivered, and no launch date in sight for the ones that launched, it looks like this story will continue for the foreseeable future.
What are your experiences traveling with Qatar Airways? When do you think the airline will finally be able to launch its new 787-9? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.