11 April 2018

Middle East Airline Increases Air Cargo Capacity with New Freighter Order  

Despite Turbulent Times It's Business As Usual for Freight Carrier

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Shipping News Feature QATAR – US – Despite the fact it has been under a blockade by neighbouring Arab countries for almost a year now, it seems Qatar is managing to maintain its status in the field of air freight. After purchasing a minority share in US private jet specialist JetSuite last week, and taking a 49% share in Air Italy following the Alitalia crisis last year, Qatar Airways has now increased its potential for air freight carriage with a letter of intent signed with Boeing to purchase five dedicated cargo aircraft, 777 Freighters, valued at $1.7 billion at list prices.

Their seems to be little change in the relationship Qatar has with Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain and the UAE since they cut all land, sea and air links with the country, causing services including air traffic to be routed elsewhere and starting a series of arguments over territorial incursions etc. Despite these issues a ceremony this week attended by Qatari Minister of Finance and Qatar Airways Chairman His Excellency Mr Ali Sharif Al Emadi, Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive His Excellency Mr Akbar Al Baker and Boeing Commercial Airplanes President & CEO Kevin McAllister, saw the agreement drawn up.

Qatar Airways currently operates a fleet of nearly 100 Boeing wide body airplanes and has about 100 more Boeing airplanes on order. The Qatar Airways CEO commented:

”"The addition of five 777 Freighters is a significant moment for our cargo division. As the world's third-largest cargo operator, Qatar Airways continues to invest in fleet expansion. This transaction will be a reinforcement of our confidence in Boeing to continue to deliver an outstanding product that meets our exacting standards. We expect no less than perfection, and we are confident that Boeing will continue to deliver that."

The 777 Freighter is capable of flying 4,900 nautical miles with a payload of 102 tonnes and Boeing claims the airplane's long range translates into significant savings as fewer stops mean lower landing fees, less congestion, lower cargo handling costs and shorter delivery times. Kevin McAllister observed:

"We are proud of our long-standing partnership with Qatar Airways and we value their business and the positive impact on Boeing, our employees, suppliers and communities. We are honoured that one of the world's leading international cargo carriers recognizes the unmatched capabilities of the 777 Freighter to continue to lift their growing freight operations."

Relations between the US and Qatar have not been of the best lately but the Qatari government has now vowed to double its joint US $125 billion investments ‘in the future’ whilst for its part the US has now approved a $300 million deal for guided missiles, to a state accused of ‘terrorism’ over its stance on Yemen.

Qatar has long supported various factions in that country with humanitarian aid, and was originally involved in the GCC military campaign against the Houthi forces until it was accused of supporting them, thus the terrorism claim. Meanwhile Yemen’s woes continue unabated with attacks now encroaching into vital shipping lanes.

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