Qatar Airways will defer Airbus and Boeing deliveries by up to 10 years while air traffic remains low because of the Covid-19 pandemic, the company’s CEO has said.
While the airline could bring the deliveries forward when demand increases, CEO Akbar Al Baker said that Qatar Airways would review its business relationship with Airbus and Boeing if the manufacturers don’t agree to the carrier’s plans.
“Quite a lot of [orders] will be deferred, we've already notified Boeing and Airbus that we will not be taking any aeroplanes this year or next year and all the other aircraft that we have on order that was supposed to be delivered to us within the next two or three years will now be pushed back to as long as eight to 10 years,” Mr Al Baker told Sky News.
Entering the coronavirus crisis, Qatar Airways had 200 aircraft on order, including 50 A321 neos and 60 777Xs. It is unclear how many of each will be deferred.
Qatar Airways also plans to swap 30 Boeing 737 Max 8’s it had on order for a different aircraft model, in what is another blow to the US planemaker’s troubled plane.
The 737 Max’s were being bought with the intention of being operated by Air Italy. Mr Al Baker said the airline no longer required the Max’s after Air Italy, of which Qatar Airways owned a 49% stake, went into liquidation in February.
Mr Al Baker said he did not know known when passenger levels would return to pre-crisis levels but said it could be “anywhere close in the next 24 months”.
Like most airlines, Qatar Airways is cutting jobs and salaries. The airline is set to lay off around 9,200 of its 46,000 employees, including pilots.