Aviation News

Qatar Airways starts Boeing B737MAX flights

Qatar Airways has announced the entry-to-service of the newest aircraft type in its fleet, the Boeing B737MAX.

B737MAX comes early

Qatar Airways has launched operations of Boeing B737MAX-8 aircraft. The airline is now operating some flights to Kuwait with these aircraft.

The airline says that “the utilization of the Boeing B737MAX-8s will add capacity to help drive future growth, especially in short haul markets, which will be expanded from the Doha-Kuwait-Doha route to other nations, principally in the GCC as further approvals take place”.

Those who have been following Qatar Airways and Airbus’ recent dispute regarding the Airbus A350 might know that the airline, in an attempt to continue expanding its fleet, placed orders for 25 Boeing B737MAX-10s aircraft, as a result of Airbus cancelling its A321neo orders. For those who are unaware of the dispute between Qatar Airways and Airbus, please check this article for more information.

So, the orders for 25 of the longest version of B737MAX are still in place but Qatar Airways says that it recently had a chance to acquire some Not Taken Up (NTU) airframes, specifically 9 of the -8 variants. It jumped on the opportunity and here we are, with Qatar Airways B737MAX-8s.

The flag carrier of Qatar already has 2 of them in the fleet, with another 7 set to join the airline’s fleet by July 2023.

The carrier says that since the aircraft arrived in Doha, they have “undergone post-delivery maintenance which has included IFE streaming installation and the aircraft has been used for pilot training almost every day”. Qatar Airways says that the B737MAX-10 will feature inflight entertainment screens but the -8s will only feature streaming entertainment.

The B737MAX-8s will be used for shorter sectors. However, the airline says that although this is true, the shorter sectors “are not expected to be exclusively operated with this aircraft and will flexibly utilise the Boeing B777 and Airbus A350 depending on demand and capacity”.

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Not in a good position

Qatar Airways’ narrow-body fleet currently consists of 29 Airbus A320 aircraft. The airline has 75 narrow-body aircraft on order, excluding these 9 B737MAX-8s. These 75 aircraft consists of B737MAX-10s and 50 Airbus A321neo, with Airbus now having reinstated the order as the dispute with Qatar Airways is now over.

The problem is that due to the dispute, Qatar Airways lost its delivery slots for Airbus A321neo aircraft. Had the dispute not occurred, they were originally scheduled to be delivered this year onwards but the A321neos will now not be delivered before 2026. The 25 B737MAX-10s will be delivered starting in 2025. This means that the airline will not take delivery of any new narrow body aircraft until 2025, except these 9 B737MAX-8s.

Qatar Airways obviously jumped on the opportunity to acquire these 9 aircraft, which will help it somewhat grow its network. So now you may ask how did these aircraft open up for Qatar Airways? So these aircraft were originally scheduled to be taken up by Russia’s S7 airlines but due to the various sanctions placed on Russia, Boeing was not allowed to deliver these planes to S7. And with no signs of the situation improving in Russia, Boeing has found a new customer for them in the form of Qatar Airways, a win-win situation for both as Boeing would have not got anything if these aircraft were just stored for short or long term.

Interior not yet revealed

Qatar Airways has not yet revealed the interior of these new aircraft. These aircraft have entered service in a very short time frame, so mostly the airline will have just changed the branding elements on the seats and that’s it. The seats may be the same with only cosmetic changes. S7 Airlines configured these aircraft with 8 Business Class and 168 standard Economy Class seats.

Featured image by Qatar Airways

What do you think of Qatar Airways starting B737 MAX-8 operations? Let me know in the comments section below.

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