Boeing reaches agreements with Qatar Airways and launches a new cargo plane

WASHINGTON: Boeing launched a new cargo plane on Monday (May 2) while announcing a pair of major deals with Qatar Airways, to give the still struggling US aviation giant a boost.

The deal with the Middle Eastern carrier was unveiled at a White House ceremony attended by senior US and Qatari officials, and includes the sale of 34 777X freighters, as well as options for 16 more aircraft in the latest incarnation of Boeing’s famous twin-aisle 777 line.

Boeing said the $20 billion worth of the deal with Qatar Airways was the largest cargo commitment in Boeing’s history.

The airline has also reached a deal worth nearly $7 billion for a firm order for 25 737 MAX jets plus purchase rights for another 25 planes, Boeing said.

The deals provide a boost to Boeing, which continues to struggle with quality control issues as commercial aviation experiences a mixed recovery from the depths of the coronavirus crisis.

The announcements show that Boeing is “meeting a global need that in a post-Covid world will come back, and come back significantly,” Boeing Chief Executive David Calhoun said at the signing.

For Qatar Airways, the agreements with Boeing follow an unusual public fight with European aircraft manufacturer Airbus.

Earlier this month, Airbus canceled the carrier’s multi-billion dollar order for 50 new single-aisle jets in a growing row over Qatar Airways’ decision to ground its A350 widebody.

“Today marks a great day in the ever-stronger relationship between Qatar Airways and Boeing,” said Qatar Airways Chief Executive Officer Akbar Al Baker.

“We are certainly pushing Boeing hard to meet our expectations, and the Boeing team is constantly striving to meet and exceed our expectations, which gives us the opportunity to be here today to launch the new cargo plane. most important in a generation.”

The signing ceremony took place as Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani of Qatar visited the White House, where President Joe Biden was expected to bolster energy support from European allies as Washington pressured Russia over the crisis Ukrainian.

Qatar is a major exporter of natural gas.

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Boeing announced a quarterly loss of $4.1 billion last week related to problems with its 787 Dreamliner jet that resulted in one-time expenses of $3.8 billion. The company suspended deliveries on the model due to a series of production issues.

The 787’s woes have dampened Boeing’s comeback despite a surge in deliveries of the MAX last year, which was cleared for service in late 2020 after a 20-month grounding following two fatal crashes.

On the 777X, Boeing originally launched the program in 2013 with a plan to put the jet into service in 2020. But the deadline has been pushed back several times. Boeing now expects the first jets for commercial service to be delivered in 2023.

The 777x freighters tied to Monday’s deal with Qatar Airways will be delivered from 2027, Boeing said.

Richard Aboulafia, aviation expert at AeroDynamic Advisory, said cargo demand “is about the only bright spot” in the twin-aisle aircraft market, where activity remained more depressed compared to single-aisle aircraft.

The 777X jets will be assembled at Boeing’s complex in Everett, Washington and will use engines produced by General Electric, which will also be assembled in the United States, said US Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo.

She described the deal as a testament to “the thriving commercial relationship between the United States and Qatar.”

Boeing said the 777X Freighter order would support 35,000 U.S. jobs and strengthen suppliers in 38 states.