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Boeing launches B777-8 Freighter with Qatar Airways as the launch customer with a order for up to 50 aircraft

It’s official! After multiple rumours, Boeing has officially launched the Boeing B777-8 Freighter with Qatar Airways as the launch customer with a order for up to 50 aircraft.

Qatar orders up to 102 aircraft

Qatar Airways has ordered up to 102 Boeing aircraft which includes:

  • Up to 50 Boeing B777X freighters, including 34 confirmed orders for the B777-8 freighter and 16 options
  • Up to 50 Boeing B737MAX-10 aircraft, including 25 confirmed orders for the B737MAX-10 and 25 options
  • 2 current generation Boeing B777 Freighters

The B777-8 Freighter

As you might have guessed, the B777-8 Freighter is the cargo version of the B777X. The B777X, Boeing’s latest passenger jet, has not yet entered service, with 2023 being the current timeline for the introduction. Qatar already has an order for 60 Boeing B777X aircraft, with 10 of these being B777-8s and 50 being B777-9s. However, as part of the yesterday’s announcement, 20 of those orders are being converted into freighters. So Qatar will now take delivery of only 40 B777Xs.

Qatar Airways will be the launch customer of the B777-8 Freighter for 34 aircraft and options for 16 more as mentioned above, a total purchase that would be worth more than $20 billion at current list prices and the largest freighter commitment in Boeing history by value.

Featuring advanced technology from the new B777X family and the good performance of the B777 Freighter, the B777-8 Freighter will be the largest, longest-range and most capable twin-engine freighter in the industry. With payload capacity nearly identical to the B747-400 Freighter and a 25% improvement in fuel efficiency, emissions and operating costs, Boeing says that the B777-8 Freighter will enable a more sustainable and profitable business for operators.

At the White House, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, Ambassador Sheikh Mishaal bin Hamad Al Thani, Director of the White House National Economic Council Brian Deese, and Boeing President and CEO Dave Calhoun joined the formal signing by Boeing Commercial Airplanes President and CEO Stan Deal and Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive, Akbar Al Baker.

First delivery of the new freighter is anticipated in 2027.

Akbar Al Baker, Group Chief Executive, Qatar Airways, said:

Boeing has a long history of building market-leading freighter aircraft and Qatar Airways is honored to have the opportunity to be the launch customer for the 777-8 Freighter, an aircraft which will not only allow us to further enhance our product offering for our customers, but also help us meet our objectives to deliver a sustainable future for our business. Today marks a great day in the ever-building and strong relationship between Qatar Airways and Boeing. We certainly push Boeing hard to deliver upon our expectations, and the team at Boeing consistently strives to meet and exceed our expectations, giving the opportunity for us to be here today to launch the most significant new freighter aircraft for a generation.

Stan Deal, CEO and President, Boeing Commercial Airplanes, said:

We are delighted to launch Boeing’s next great cargo airplane – the 777-8 Freighter – with Qatar Airways, one of the world’s largest cargo carriers and our partner since the airline began operations nearly 30 years ago. Our team is ready to create an airplane that will serve them well for many decades. Qatar Airways’ selection of the efficient 777-8 Freighter is a testament to our commitment to provide freighters with market-leading capacity, reliability and efficiency. We are proud that 90% of the global dedicated freighter fleet is made up of Boeing airplanes. With global supply chains under pressure and high demand for e-commerce, the performance and capabilities of the fleet is more important than ever.

Boeing says that it is designing the B777-8 Freighter, the newest member of the B777X family, to maximize efficiency and environmental performance. The widebody family features engineering design improvements and innovative technologies, including a new carbon-fiber composite wing and new fuel-efficient engines. With a range of 4,410 nautical miles (8,167 km), the B777-8 Freighter has a maximum structural payload of 118 tonnes, allowing customers to make fewer stops and reduce landing fees on long-haul routes.

The American aircraft manufacturer will build the B777-8 Freighter in its Everett, Washington, factory. The company has invested more than $1 billion into the Everett site to support B777X production and sustain thousands of local jobs for decades to come.

The flag carrier of Qatar also announced a new order for GE9X engines as part of its B777-8 Freighter order. The total value of the order with GE is more than U.S.$6.8 billion list price, including spare engines, a new order for GE90-115B engines (for its 2 new current generation B777 Freighter order), and a TrueChoice services agreement to cover the maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) of the engines.

Akbar Al Baker said:

With our status as the world’s largest air freight carrier, Qatar Airways has ambitious plans for the future of its cargo operations. As operators of the Boeing 777 family, including the global launch customer of Boeing’s 777-8 Freighter aircraft, we are delighted to have GE as our partners and these contracts for GE engines further cement the strong relationship between Qatar Airways and GE. We are confident that Qatar Airways’ focus to drive towards a sustainable future will be very much supported by the efficiency of the GE9X engines.

John Slattery, CEO, GE Aviation, said:

GE Aviation has great history and proven track record of powering freighter-dedicated aircraft. We are proud to continue building our relationship with Qatar Airways and play a significant role in their growth with this order of Boeing 777-8 Freighter and 777 Freighter aircraft.

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Qatar also orders the B737MAX-10 as Airbus cancels the A321neo order

In a surprising move and just one week after Airbus cancelled Qatar Airways’ order for 50 Airbus A321neos, the airline has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Boeing for a firm order of 25 B737-10 aircraft and purchase rights for 25 additional airplanes. The total value of this B737-10 commitment is nearly $7 billion at current list prices. The largest model in the MAX family, the B737-10 seats up to 230 passengers in a single-class configuration and can fly up to 3,300 miles.

Qatar Airways’ B737-10

Related: Big win for Boeing: Allegiant Air orders up to 100 B737MAX aircraft

Akbar Al Baker said:

Qatar Airways very much looks forward to adding the 737-10 to its fleet, with this new variant of the 737 being ideally suited to our short haul network, allowing us an opportunity to further enhance our product offering for our customers, modernize our fleet and operate the most efficient aircraft in its category.

Stan Deal said:

The largest member of the 737 family, the 737-10 is an airplane that offers more capacity, greater fuel efficiency and the best per-seat economics of any single-aisle airplane. We are proud of our partnership with Qatar Airways and honored that this world class airline continues to put its trust in our Boeing team.

Related: India’s Akasa Air orders 72 Boeing B737MAX aircraft

The order comes just a week after Airbus cancelled the airline’s order for 50 Airbus A321neo aircraft.

Presently, there is a heated argument going on between Airbus and Qatar Airways. Both of them are arguing over the condition of Airbus A350s. Qatar Airways claims the fuselage of the aircraft is degrading at an accelerated rate and it is an “safety issue”, while Airbus is claiming that the damage is cosmetic. So both the companies are now in a legal battle and it has gotten to the point where Airbus has even terminated its contract to sell Qatar Airways 50 Airbus A321neos.

Many of us were wondering whether all of this was just a bargaining tactic, or whether the relationship between Airbus and Qatar Airways had truly soured. Qatar’s order for B737-10 aircraft clearly suggests that the airline is more or less ready to cut ties with Airbus, or at least make long term decisions based on the current situation.

All in all, Qatar Airways is at loss in the end as the A321neos are a better option as compared to the B737-10s. The A321neo is much more versatile, with the A321XLR (Extra Long Range) providing some incredible range for a narrow body aircraft. Boeing does not have a competitor for this aircraft, with the B737-10 having a maximum range of 3,300 nautical miles, while the A321LR has a maximum range of 4,000 nautical miles.

In terms of passenger experience, the A321neo is more comfortable than the B737MAX, given the slightly wider cabin.

All in all, Qatar Airways now only has one option, that is to go with the B737-10 aircraft. So it will be interesting to see how this all turns out to be.

Meanwhile, Qatar Airways recently announced the addition of Kano and Port Harcourt in Nigeria to its network.

Featured image by Qatar Airways

All the other images by Qatar Airways

What do you think of Qatar Airways’ order for Boeing aircraft? Let me know in the comments section below.

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