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Qatar_Airways_AlbakerQatar Airways’ CEO Akbar Al Baker is at it again, challenging an OEM.

In June at the Paris air show he was gung ho for the 777x; “We would definitely want to be the launch customer”.  Mr Al Baker said he might be ready for the Dubai air show to commit for the 777x.

Here we are, a few weeks away from the Dubai air show.  Now Mr Al Baker says he is not interested in the 777x.

What could have happened?  Back in June Mr Al Baker told Reuters “Yes, if we can iron out all our requirements and they can iron out all the performance specifications and enhancements of the plane, we would be interested by then.”

It would seem that Mr Al Baker either did not get what he wanted from Boeing or his airline’s requirements have not been firmed.  We suspect it is the former.  Airbus has made significant progress on the A350 program. The JAL order still reverberates.  It could be the 777x numbers are not offering a sufficient jump for Mr Al Baker.  It is not as though Qatar is not a good Boeing customer.

10-25-2013 11-06-01 AMBoeing accounts for one third of the airline’s mainline fleet.  It ordered two more 777-300ERs this year.

But that means Qatar has 66% of its fleet from Airbus.  Moreover the airline has 38 A350-100s on order out of its total commitment to the A350 of 80.

Although Mr Al Baker has proven to be a challenging customer for both Airbus and Boeing, it would appear he favors the A350-1000 as a replacement for the 777.

A reason for this is almost certainly related to the fact the 777X will not be available until 2021 at the earliest, and the airline wants to replace its early 777s by ” in the early part of  the next decade“.

Boeing has to get the 777x program right, especially EIS and 99% dispatch reliability from the start.  The 777x has huge shoes to fill.  Boeing has already lost one 777 customer and now appears to have lost another.  The ANA decision looms.

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