August 12, 2022

Earlier this year it was announced that Qatar Airways would order up to 50 Boeing 737 MAXs. However, that’s apparently not happening anymore. Let’s cover the background of this, and then we’ll talk about the latest update.

Basics of Qatar Airways’ Boeing 737 MAX order

At the end of January 2022, Qatar Airways placed an order with Boeing for up to 102 jets, including the following:

  • Up to 50 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft, including 25 confirmed orders for the 737 MAX 10, and 25 options
  • Up to 50 Boeing 777X freighters, including 34 confirmed orders for the 777-8 freighter and 16 options
  • Two current generation Boeing 777 freighters

The timing of this was no coincidence, and seemed to be a result of the heated dispute between Airbus and Qatar Airways. The airline and aircraft manufacturer are arguing over the condition of Airbus A350s. Qatar Airways claims the fuselage of the aircraft is degrading at an accelerated rate, while Airbus is claiming that the damage is cosmetic.

The two companies are in a nasty legal battle, and it has gotten to the point where Airbus even terminated its contract to sell Qatar Airways 50 Airbus A321neos. With Airbus refusing to sell these planes to Qatar Airways, the Doha-based airline instead placed an order with Boeing.

Many of us wondered if this was 100% serious or just a further bargaining technique. Well, there’s an update on that front.

Qatar Airways placed an order with Boeing earlier this year

Qatar Airways’ Boeing 737 MAX contract has expired

Reuters is reporting that Qatar Airways’ deal to buy Boeing 737 MAXs has allegedly lapsed. Specifically, as part of the ongoing legal battle, Airbus has requested a copy of the Boeing 737 MAX agreement in court in the UK, after the airline brought this up as part of its request for compensation related to the A350.

Qatar Airways allegedly rejected that request, claiming that the deal with Boeing has now “expired.” That sure is interesting. It seems pretty clear that the deal for the Boeing 737 MAX was conditional rather than firm, which wasn’t made clear at the time.

I would imagine the airline didn’t put much money down, but even so, aircraft manufacturers are often happy to make these kind of agreements and announcements. After all, it looks good for Boeing when an airline expresses interest in its planes, especially when it’s Boeing and the 737 MAX.

In recent weeks, Qatar Airways has even been distancing itself from this 737 MAX order. In mid-June, Qatar Airways’ CEO stated that the 737 MAXs were in fact intended for a subsidiary company, and the order was independent of the A321neo order being canceled. The subsidiary detail hadn’t been mentioned before, so it almost seems like the airline was trying to ease its way into acknowledging that this order was canceled.

This still raises the question of what exactly Qatar Airways’ long term short haul fleet replacement plan is. Commercial aircraft manufacturing is more or less a duopoly, and with Airbus unwilling to sell jets to Qatar Airways, that just leaves Boeing.

I think that Qatar Airways is probably hoping to reconcile with Airbus. If that’s the case, it’s time something happens, because Qatar Airways desperately needs to refresh its narrow body fleet (or at least have a firm plan for doing so).

Qatar Airways clearly still wants the A321neo

Bottom line

Earlier this year Qatar Airways placed an order for 50 Boeing 737 MAXs, or so we thought. It’s now believed that this order has lapsed, so it sounds like these planes are no longer in Qatar Airways’ plans. What a strange situation…

What do you make of Qatar Airways’ 737 MAX order allegedly lapsing?

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