Boeing lands huge plane order from Qatar Airways :: WRAL.com
Boeing said on Monday that Qatar Airways had ordered up to 50 large freighter planes and pledged to purchase up to 50 Boeing 737 Max aircraft, a huge win for the U.S. aircraftmaker over European rival Airbus.
The companies did not disclose financial terms. The list price of the planes is said to total around $27 billion, but airlines regularly receive deep discounts.
Boeing stepped in to clinch the orders shortly after Airbus canceled an order from Qatar Airways due to an unusually public and bitter fight over complaints from Qatar over paint jobs on another Airbus model.
The cargo plane order was announced at a signing ceremony at the White House attended by airline and Boeing executives as well as officials from both governments.
President Joe Biden welcomed the order during an Oval Office meeting with the Emir of Qatar. Biden called it “one of the biggest contracts Boeing has ever had, and it will support tens of thousands of well-paying American jobs here in America,” Biden said.
Shares of Chicago-based Boeing Co. gained 5% to close at $200.24.
Boeing said Qatar Airways would be the first airline to operate the 777-8, a freighter version of the twin-aisle 777. The airline has placed a firm order for 34 planes and taken options for 16 more.
It is the largest order ever for Boeing cargo planes, the company said.
Demand for cargo planes has held up despite – or perhaps because of – the pandemic. The slowdown in international travel since the start of 2020 means there are fewer passenger planes carrying cargo in their bellies. This puts a premium on cargo flights only.
“Freight is the only healthy part of the widebody market,” said Richard Aboulafia, analyst at AeroDynamics Advisory in Washington.
Boeing has long dominated the freighter market, although it fell behind Airbus in the sale and delivery of new passenger planes after the 737 Max planes were grounded in 2019 following two fatal accidents. Many Boeing customers have backed the Max, a single-aisle aircraft used on short- and medium-haul flights, and Qatar Airways is now giving it further impetus.
The state-owned airline has signed a memorandum of understanding to order 25 Max 10s, a larger version of previous Max models. Qatar has taken options for another 25 aircraft.
The deal with Boeing comes about two weeks after Airbus, in a highly unusual move, ended a contract with Qatar Airways for 50 A321neo planes. Airbus and the airline have been feuding for months over cracked paint on the fuselages of A350 planes.
The airline said the peeling paint is a safety concern because it exposes a copper mesh that protects against lightning strikes. It has grounded 21 A350s and is seeking compensation from Airbus. The European aviation regulator said the issue did not raise safety concerns.
Associated Press writer Aamer Madhani in Washington contributed to this report.