It took until the second question at today's Qatar Airways 100th airplane delivery event for CEO Akbar Al-Baker to be asked about the contract dispute between Cargolux, of which Qatar is a 35% stakeholder, and General Electric that abruptly cancelled delivery of the cargo carrier's first two 747-8Fs.
Al-Baker declared the dispute between Cargolux, Boeing and GE resolved over the 2.7% fuel burn shortfall on the freighters, and that the launch customer for the type will take delivery on October 12, pending an October 6-7 Cargolux board meeting.
However, sources indicate that there is no dispute between Qatar Airways and Boeing in respect of 787 delay compensation. Sources point to a more likely influence being Qatar Airways' knowledge of the 747-8 performance shortfall and related compensation terms as a result of managing the purchase of two 747-8I VIP aircraft for the Qatar government. GE and Boeing are developing a performance improvement package (PIP) to address just over half of the 2.7% fuel burn shortfall suffered by the 747-8's GEnx-2B67.
However, service-entry of the PIP is believed to be at least two years away - with customers being asked to pay for the upgrade. The engine will need additional upgrades to redress the balance of the performance deficit, and there is the prospect of an additional charge being made for this PIP.
At the time of its publication early Friday, the Flightglobal report (excerpted above) called the negotiations ongoing and there was a "constructive dialogue" between the parties. Clearly, the gap was closed in the hours before Qatar took its100th aircraft, a new 777-200LR.
Industry sources say that Cargolux will remain the launch customer for the type, with Boeing very likely to make its first deliveries to Atlas Air and Cathay Pacific Cargo following its belated handover to the European cargo-hauler.