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Qatar Airways set to receive first 787 Dreamliner by end of 2011

Filed on September 27, 2011

DUBAI Qatar Airways may become the first Gulf carrier to receive its first 787 Dreamliner by the end of 2011, Khaleej Times learned on Monday.

Etihad Airways, with 31 planes, is the largest Gulf customer of the revolutionary aircraft developed by Boeing, which has orders worth about $25 billion for 125 aircraft from the Middle East. Qatar Airways ordered 30 787 Dreamliners in April 2007.

Boeing, which competes for airplane orders with EADS unit Airbus, delivered the first lightweight carbon-composite aircraft to Japan’s All Nippon Airways on Sunday. The fuel-efficient plane, which lists for about $200 million, is three years behind its original delivery schedule.

“Qatar Airways is slated to take its first 787 delivery by the end of 2011 and plans to use its 30 787s to replace ageing and less fuel-efficient Airbus A330s. The airline also holds options on a further 30 787s and it is highly likely these will be exercised. Along with Etihad Airways, Qatar Airways will be one of the biggest 787 operators when deliveries are completed,” Saj Ahmad, chief analyst at FBE Aerospace London, told Khaleej Times. He said Boeing has total orders of some 821 jets and the Arabian airlines here represent 15 per cent of the entire backlog. “The lower cost of operation of this family of airplanes will allow Arabian airlines to open up more point-to-point destinations that were previously restricted to bigger jets like the 777, 747 and A380,” he said.

ALAFCO, a Kuwait-based lease and finance company, Iraqi airline, Gulf Air, Saudi Arabian Airlines and Royal Air of Morocco are among major customers of 787 Dreamliners in the region. Emirates, the world’s number one airline, has not yet placed an order for this revolutionary aircraft, but another UAE-based customer booked five planes in May 2005.

“With fewer older long range airplanes to replace, much of the 787 backlog for the region represents growth, expansion and opportunities for forge closer alliances and partnerships with other airlines,” Ahmad said adding that the airlines will have to see alternatives planes to continue their growth in route networks.

“Notwithstanding the penalty payments and compensation that Boeing has already paid out to customers, airlines in the Middle East will secure much success from the 787,” he said.

He said Boeing will no doubt be looking to the Middle East as a source of future and sustained 787 orders as it may ramp up deliveries after spending billions on development and compensations. Boeing aims to produce 10 Dreamliners per month by the end of 2013 to clear the backlog.

“As Emirates has not yet announced any plan to buy the 787, there is ample opportunity for Boeing to develop stretched models like the 787-10X that Emirates actually wants — so while the 787 may have started off choppy and costly for the US jet maker, the prospects for the 787 and Boeing to score more orders is very likely to build on the way that the 777 has come to dominate this region,” Ahmad said.

· muzaffarrizvi@khaleejtimes.com


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