Qatar Airways has begun the final countdown to the termination of its Boeing 787 order after losing patience over negotiations about delivery delays.
Chief executive Akbar Al Baker blasted Boeing during the Paris air show for taking too long to resolve unspecific "issues", warning that it would "walk away" from its 60-strong 787 contract if they are not quickly resolved. "We have some serious issues with Boeing and if they do not play ball with us they will be in for a very, very serious surprise," says Al Baker.
The airline's 30 firm 787-8 orders (plus 30 options) were originally due for delivery from mid-2010. However, the production crisis has pushed back all customers' deliveries by at least two years, which would indicate that Qatar's first aircraft is not now due to arrive until the around 2013 timeframe.
While he is unspecific about the nature of the issues, Al Baker says that Boeing is not dealing with them "in a professional manner, and Qatar Airways is very impatient with them". He adds that the airline has the right to "walk away" from the deal if "the delay is unreasonable".
The Doha-based airline's high growth rate gives it an urgent need to add more widebody capacity. As such it is understood to be looking for earlier delivery slots vacated by airlines like Northwest/Delta and other carriers which would enable its 787 to begin arriving in 2011. Sources say that if the issue is not resolved quickly a contract cancellation move is "very imminent".
In response to Al Baker's public tirade, Boeing says only that it is "working closely with each of our customers".
Qatar Airways has launched an on-demand charter division, Qatar Executive, which will operate two Bombardier Challenger 605s and a single 300. The service will be aimed at government officials, businessmen, bankers and politicians."