Qatar wants converted freighters in service by 2015

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Qatar Airways is in discussions with both Airbus and Boeing over an order for up to 25 widebody passenger-to-freighter conversions, with a view to the aircraft entering service from 2015.

"We are in very advanced discussions with EFW," says Akbar Al Baker, chief executive of Qatar Airways. Dresden-based EFW is the freighter conversion centre for the EADS Group, parent of Airbus.

Qatar Airways has long been pushing Airbus for an A330 freighter conversion programme. It has a large fleet of A330-200/300s and some will be converted to freighters if a deal with EFW can be reached.

The carrier is also talking to Boeing about a potential passenger-to-freight conversion deal for 777-200s, says Al Baker. Qatar Airways does not currently operate this variant, but there is plenty of availability in the used market, he says.

A deal needs to be concluded shortly to ensure the Doha-based airline can secure sufficient delivery slots at conversion factories to meet its 2015 in-service deadline, says Al Baker.

Qatar Airways had previously said it is seeking between 15-25 widebodies for its freighter conversion plans.