Aerospace & Defense

Boeing wins Qatar Airways order for 737 Max planes, new 777X freighters

Key Points
  • The deal for Max jets comes after Airbus said it canceled Qatar Airways' order for 50 A321s
  • Boeing will develop a 777X freighter and is still testing the passenger version.
  • Air cargo has been a bright spot in the Covid pandemic after passenger demand fell and e-commerce increased.

In this article

The Boeing 777-8 Freighter
The Boeing Company

Boeing won a big order from Qatar Airways on Monday as the airline feuds with rival manufacturer Airbus.

Shares of Boeing surged on the orders, ending the day up 5.1% at $200.24.

The order is worth $34 billion at list prices, the aircraft manufacturer said, though airlines usually receive discounts, especially for such large orders.

Boeing signs $34B deal with Qatar Airways
Boeing signs $34B deal with Qatar Airways

At a White House ceremony on Monday, Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker signed a provisional order for 25 737 Max 10 jets, the largest model in the Max family, along with options to buy 25 more of the planes. Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun attended along with Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo and Qatar's ambassador to the U.S., Sheikh Meshal bin Hamad Al Thani.

Freighter debut

The carrier also lined up as Boeing's first customer for a freighter version of its newest jetliner, the 777X, as the airplane maker marked the official launch of the new air cargo plane.

Qatar signed an order for 34 of the 777X, a giant, twin-engine plane, powered by General Electric, as well as options for 16 more of the jets. The airline also ordered two of Boeing's current 777 freighter model. Boeing expects the passenger 777X to enter into service in late 2023, about three years behind schedule.

Boeing Commercial Airplanes President and CEO Stan Deal and Qatar Airlines CEO Akbar Al Baker participate in a signing ceremony of an agreement for the purchase of 777-8 Freighter planes at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building near the White House in Washington, January 31, 2022.
Sarah Silbiger | REUTERS

Boeing is making a big bet on air cargo, a relative bright spot in the pandemic. A web of travel restrictions and Covid cases drove down international travel, depriving cargo customers of belly space in passenger planes. Combined with a series of port snarls, air freight demand and prices surged over the past year.

Boeing last week said cargo traffic rose 7% last year from pre-pandemic levels, driving record demand for its freighter planes.

The cargo version of the 777X, whose test flights began two years ago, is also a bet that cargo carriers will seek new aircraft that cut their fuel use and emissions. Boeing says the new cargo jets will be able to fly almost the same payload as a 747-400 freighter but with 25% lower emissions.

Rival Airbus last year said it was launching a freighter version of its A350 widebody plane.

The Max deal with Qatar comes less than two weeks after Airbus said it ended its contract with Qatar Airways for 50 A321neo planes, a rival to the Max jets. Airbus and Qatar Airways have been in a dispute for months over cracked paint and other issues on its A350 planes.