The carrier, which already has the world's largest order backlog, worth around $40 billion, is still certain to arrive at this year's Paris air show with a sizeable shopping list. A much anticipated follow-on order for Airbus A380s is expected by some commentators to be for as many as 20 aircraft, but half that number seems more likely. Qatar currently has firm orders for five A380s, and options for two more. Both the airline and the manufacturer have delayed A380 deliveries and the first is not now expected until 2013. The airline plans to announce its engine choice, between the Engine Alliance GP7200 and the Rolls-Royce Trent 800, early next year.
Qatar Airways plans to operate a narrowbody fleet of two aircraft types in the future, which will eventually replace its current fleet of 33, IAE V2500-powered, Airbus A320s, A321s and A319s. Although chairman Akbar Al Baker would have preferred an all-new 737NG replacement over the A320neo, Boeing simply won't be able to deliver such an aircraft in time to meet Qatar's needs. Al Baker now seems very likely to see an order for Pratt & Whitney PW1100G powered A320neos; an aircraft that he has described as 'an old lady in new clothes' as the next best alternative. As for the second narrowbody type, although Al Baker was initially very interested in Bombardier's CSeries, the prospects of an order diminished after Pratt & Whitney initially failed to guarantee the reduced maintenance costs it was claiming for the aircraft's "PurePower" geared turbofans. It seems that these issues with P&W are now resolved and that a Paris order for what Al Baker has called "...a wonderful airplane." (for sectors of up to 3.5 hours) now seems highly likley.The two orders combined are thought likely to be for a total of around 50 aircraft.
Qatar Airways’ show would be nicely rounded off by Airbus announcing the launch of an A330-200 P2F (passenger to freighter) conversion programme. It has been pressing the planemaker to do this for some time, and is keen to convert its current fleet of 29 A330-200s and -300s, as these start to be replaced by Boeing 787s from 2012. How likely Airbus is to launch a P2F programme, for the A330-200 in particular, remains to be seen, as it has so far been understandably reluctant to damage the sales prospects for the already slow-selling new-build A330-200F freighter programme.
Wed, Jun 15 2011 12:23 PM
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