Qatar CEO Akbar Al Baker. By GeoffreyThomas
Qatar Airways (QR) ordered 50 Airbus A320s and five A380s, worth a reported $6.5 billion at the Dubai Airshow—alongside a Boeing order for two 777 freighters worth $560 million—but the Airbus order was only secured after some high drama.
A press conference between Airbus and QR was called off by the carrier, who then held a press conference with Boeing.
QR CEO Akbar Al Baker declared to media that there “was an impasse” between his airline and Airbus, which he accused of “still learning how to build aircraft.”
After announcing the 777F order—which Al Baker described as the best freighter in the world and a critical component of QR’s cargo fleet to enable the launch of three new dedicated freighter services from Doha and Luxembourg to Atlanta, Houston and Toronto—questions from media centered on the Airbus standoff, much to the amusement of Boeing officials, who themselves have recently been on the receiving end of Al Baker’s rhetoric.
"We have canceled the announcement. There is an impasse. If this is resolved, fine, if not, bye-bye," Al Baker said.
On Boeing, Al Baker said that while there had been stress in the relationship, all friends have “ups and downs but it doesn’t mean you end your relationship.”
Later on, a second Airbus/QR press conference was called and the reported impasse was resolved. Airbus COO-customers John Leahy said that QR supported the development of the Airbus A320neo very early on.
“It is with great pride that we are announcing this large order today, including an additional five A380s," Leahy said. "We appreciate having built a unique relationship with our friends at Qatar Airways over the years.”