Qatar Airways is in the news again and, once again, its about Airbus. The airline plans to swap its order for up to 80 A320neos for A321neos. “We are going to take all A321s, there will be no more A320s,” CEO Akbar Al Baker told reporters in Doha.
The airline has rejected four A320neo deliveries to date. The engines for the A321s have not been selected – the rejected A320neos have Pratt & Whitney GTFs. The airline’s CEO expressed dissatisfaction with the engines and this is the reason rejecting the four A320neos. Mr al-Baker has threatened to take CFM LEAP engines instead.
The quote above bears some consideration – what does “all” actually mean? The original order was for up to 80 aircraft. Will “all” include replacement A321neos for the rejected four A320neos? Mr al-Baker is a consummate communicator – he plays the public messaging process better than any other airline CEO (only Michael O’Leary comes close). He is therefore a favorite at any airshow. Nobody will miss his events because there is always something newsy.
The switch to the larger aircraft was telegraphed late last year. Mr al-Baker had earlier expressed his annoyance with Airbus and went on to order 737MAXs. Then, it turned out that this order was really something else.
The news out about the model swap is therefore just another chapter in an ongoing saga. The engine issue is also still open – “We are still negotiating,” Mr al-Baker said. We await the next chapter.