Farnborough Airshow

Qatar Airways considering Boeing 737 Max after cancelling Airbus A320neo order: CEO

Phil Han | Arjun Kharpal
Qatar Airways CEO frustrated by Airbus
Qatar Airways CEO frustrated by Airbus

Qatar Airways is "seriously" talking to Boeing about buying a "large number" of its 737 Max aircraft, just weeks after it canceled its first order for Airbus's rival plane following delays to its delivery.

Speaking to CNBC at the Farnborough Airshow, Akbar Al Baker, chief executive of Qatar Airways, expressed his dismay at the delays for the Airbus A320neo planes and said he was open to buying Boeing's rival 737 Max.

"I'm still frustrated because I'm still seven airplanes short in my fleet. We are talking to Boeing seriously about the Max aircraft and hopefully, maybe, in one of our joint ventures we could take a large number of Max," Al Baker, told CNBC in an interview on Monday.

"You can't imagine how upset I am when I wake up in the morning and know that I am still short of airplanes and i have so much demand of passengers to operate into those new markets," he added.

Qatar Airways
Getty Images

The Doha-based airline ordered 50 A320neo-family planes and was due to receive the first plane last year. But delays caused by issues with the aircraft's Pratt & Whitney engines have meant that not one plane has been delivered to Qatar Airways.

Last month, the airline canceled its order for the first A320neo, using a contractual clause that allowed it walk away. It has threatened to withdraw more orders.

Airbus has acknowledged the issues. Last month, the company's chief executive, Fabrice Brégier, admitted it was behind schedule.

"We are late compared to what we had promised, especially for launch customers. I fully understand why these customers are not satisfied," he said, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Like the Airbus A320neo, Boeing's 737 Max is a single-aisle aircraft aimed at offering higher fuel efficiency and performance. It's the U.S. aerospace giant's newest aircraft and is scheduled for first delivery in 2017 with launch customer Southwest Airlines.

A Boeing 737 MAX 8 airliner lifts off for its first flight on January 29, 2016 in Renton, Washington.
Stephen Brashear | Getty Images

Airbus is also contending with supply chain delays for its A350 wide-body plane. The French aerospace firm has promised to increase production this year to deliver 650 planes, compared to 635 in 2015.

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