Qatar Airways (QR, Doha Hamad Int'l) will place an unspecified number of B737 MAX 8s with a carrier it is investing in airline Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Akbar al Baker has told Bloomberg.
The Qataris signed a Letter of Intent (LOI) with Boeing (BOE, Chicago O'Hare) earlier this month for up to sixty B737 MAX 8s. Although al Baker did not specify the carrier in question, it is believed Italian operator Meridiana fly (IG, Olbia), in which Qatar Airways is acquiring a 49% stake, will be a part beneficiary.
The tentative order broke Qatar Airways' traditional reliance on Airbus Industrie (AIB, Toulouse Blagnac) for its narrowbody needs amid teething problems with the Pratt & Whitney PW1100G-JM-powered A320neo. Given its dissatisfaction, Qatar Airways has cancelled the delivery of at least five A320neo so far with al Baker warning that more would follow unless a permanent fix for the engine's issues is found.
“When you put a bandage on a big wound that doesn’t mean it is fixed,” he said. “I have to be convinced that it is. I want others to operate and convince me it is OK. That could take a year or two."