Qatar to delay delivery of new Airbus, Boeing jets "for several years"

Right-sizing Qatar's fleet will also mean curtailing the arrival of new aircraft, among them Boeing's 777X flagship.

By David Flynn, May 13 2020
Qatar to delay delivery of new Airbus, Boeing jets

Qatar Airways plans to suspend the delivery of new jets from Airbus and Boeing until post-coronavirus travel demand returns to normal – a state which its CEO doesn't expect to see until at least 2023.

The decision will impact the arrival of anywhere from 160 to over 200 aircraft, based on the Gulf carrier's unfulfilled orders and 'letters of intent' placed for the following:

  • the Airbus A321neo and A321neo LR (50 orders in all), which were also to have debuted a flat-bed business class seat
  • over a dozen Airbus A350-1000 jets sporting the airline's flagship Qsuite business class
  • 16 Boeing 787-10s (seven have been delivered but are yet to begin commercial flights), said to be fitted with an evolved 'Qsuite 2.0' business class suite
  • as many as 110 of Boeing's next-generation 777X, beginning with 10 of the 777-9 plus 50 orders and 50 options on the longer-range 777-8
  • up to 60 of the problem-plagued Boeing 737 MAX 8 (as a letter of intent, not an inked order)

The Gulf carrier has been an ardent purchaser of new aircraft – if also a very demanding customer, with an eye for detail – as it steadily expanded its network.

"Up to now, we are getting around on an average 35-36 airplanes a year," airline CEO His Excellency Akbar Al Baker told Executive Traveller in October 2019, at the announcement of plans to build the world's largest airport lounge at Doha's expanded Hamad International Airport.

"Next year (2020) we are earmarked to get over 40 aircraft. This will be the highest 12-month aircraft delivery to Qatar Airways."

The coronavirus pandemic has of course put a crimp in that schedule and Qatar Airways' broader ambitions, and it will now reduce its fleet by 25% during the drawn-out recovery period.

The airline has already begun discussions with Airbus and Boeing about pushing back on the delivery schedule and confirmed "it will be deferred for several years, Al Baker told The South China Morning Post.

As previously reported, the airline's ten Airbus A380s will remain grounded until the second half of 2021 and may never return to the skies. "Qatar Airways is parking its 10 A380s and they will not return for at least a year, and maybe never," Al Baker said during a media briefing to discuss the airline's plans.

Al Baker expects the travel industry will take "around two to three years to get back to 2019 levels... I think I would be very surprised if things will happen before 2023/2024."


David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 654

With all of these deferrals from so many airlines with more to come no doubt, Airbus and Boeing are both going to need government assistance. They can't afford to keep building planes that no one wants to take delivery of but equally each of them support a huge chunk of economic activity so idling the businesses is not really an option either.

08 May 2020

Total posts 15

With just about all Airlines in the same Boat, the big question will be how long Boing and Airbus can hold out as being in hibernation with practically no sale. That is on top of Boings problem with their Bread and Butter Model 737 maxi and stiff competition on the 787 with the Airbus 350 fighting the same market. Airbus obviously will have some ground to make up with the early retirement of the 380 manufacture.. as suppose it will be anybody's guess when we even get to 60-70 % activity to prior Covid -19. If it is 2023 it may spell disaster.

07 Jan 2014

Total posts 41

The new 787s are 787-9s, not -10s.

14 Oct 2016

Total posts 64

With all these deferrals and cancellations to come, Qantas should consider pushing for a deal from Airbus on it a350-1000s. It may be able to pick them up for a song or be able to return a couple of the a380s with some bonus for the trade in.

Qantas did well to pick up the 737-800s in the early 2000s from the cancelled American airlines order, and I could see a similar situation here were it can get its new aircraft for a massive discount.

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