A much used file photo of Akbar Al Baker making a point with the media

Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker may not order new jets on quite the grand scale of Tim Clark, the president and CEO of Emirates, but is if anything even more direct when it comes to kicking the tyres of potential acquisitions, and the ankles, if not other parts, of their makers.

His unfavourable comments about the 787-10 in this recent interview in ATW are a good example of his tell-it-like-I-see-it style.

Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker has hinted he may be poised to make an order announcement in Dubai, with the Boeing 777X and Bombardier CSeries on his wish list. Speaking during a media roundtable at the Paris Air Show, where Qatar ordered nine Boeing 777-300ERs, Al Baker said there “may be” an order in the pipeline for the Dubai Air Show in November.

“You know that we are talking about the [777]-9X. We are also still considering the CSeries. It will be a large shopping list. We will have to replace our 777-300s in the early part of the next decade,” noting the 777-9X will not be available until 2020-21. Qatar operates 35 777s, comprising 22 777-300ERs, nine 777-200LRs and four 777Fs.

The Qatar Airways chief also said he was not interested in the 787-10. “The 787-10 is very close to the Airbus A350-1000. We already have 38 A350-1000s [on order]. I don’t want to duplicate aircraft, which have maybe the same performance, if not better. Actually the A350-1000 today, for me, looks like a better aircraft than the 787-10,” he said.

Rapidly growing Qatar, which took delivery of its sixth 787 on the eve of the Paris Air Show, is now receiving an average of one new aircraft every 12 days. This is down from an 18-day average interval 2011 and 15 days in 2012. The Doha-based carrier now operates 125 aircraft to 128 destinations.

A Qatar spokesman said that 787 arrivals in 2013 have been “squeezed” because of the FAA grounding due to issues with lithium ion batteries that have now been resolved, but Qatar is still due to receive four more of the type this year. Qatar has taken six of the 30 787s it has on firm order. It also holds 30 787 options. “Qatar is not in the business of canceling options,” the spokesman said.

Qatar will take delivery of its first Airbus A380 next March, followed by another two in 2014. Its first A350 is also due to arrive in 2014.

However it is highly unlikely anyone in Boeing management is too upset at the comments about the 787-10 versus the A350-1000, since the article makes it clear Qatar Airways intends to take 60 smaller versions of the Dreamliner than the -10, not just the 30 it has on firm order.

Qatar Airways is pursuing the Emirates global hub model fairly closely, but is also in oneworld, and like fellow alliance member British Airways, wants more of the Australia-Europe market, which raises the obvious vision of a pincer movement one day, maybe soon, between Qatar and British Airways (already in cahoots with Cathay Pacific over Hong Kong) to take what Qantas gave away to Emirates in its so called business partnership.

While looking at recent Al Baker media reports abroad, this intriguing article came up concerning the Qatari investment in London’s Heathrow Airport.

So, we have the sovereign investment funds of Singapore, and Qatar, owning substantial equity in an airport that is alleged to seriously overcharge their national flag carriers Qatar Airways and Singapore Airlines.

A fraught situation if ever there was one.

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