FARNBOROUGH: Qatar only interested in A330neo for Saudi arm

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Qatar Airways could be interested in Airbus’s re-engined A330neo but only for new Saudi Arabian arm Al Maha Airways.

The Doha-based airline meanwhile does not intend to grow its Boeing 787 fleet beyond 30 aircraft, with any additional Dreamliners likely to be placed with its leasing arm.

Qatar Airways is a major operator of the current A330, with 29 General Electric-powered passenger models along with five A330-200Fs. However, there is no opening in the fleet for the new Rolls-Royce Trent 7000-powered A330neo, says Qatar Airways chief executive Akbar Al Baker.

“We don’t have any interest for Qatar Airways operations in this aircraft,” he says, adding that the carrier is replacing its current A330 fleet with Boeing 787-8s and A350s.

“We may have interest for subsidiary Al Maha Airways, but this decision will only be made some time far into the next year,” says Al Baker.

Al Maha is due to launch operations at the end of this year with an initial fleet of Airbus A320s and is set to operate 30 aircraft within three years.

Qatar Airways has received 13 of the 30 787-8s it has on order and is due to take the first of 80 A350s at the end of the year. It holds purchase rights for 30 additional 787, which at one stage it had considered firming up as -9s.

However, Al Baker says it has no requirement for any additional 787s beyond the 30 currently ordered, the last of which is due for delivery during 2017.

“Our 30 firm 787 orders are all the same variant. However, we don’t need to order the -9 at the moment because we already have a large [order for] A350-900s,” he says.

“If we exercise those purchase rights, it will be for our leasing arm.”

Al Baker does not plan to order an additional A380s, beyond the orders it currently holds. “We are not interested in A380s. I only have 10 firm orders,” he says.