DOHA (Reuters) – Qatar Airways is considering an imminent purchase of a freighter aircraft and is looking at an "attractive proposition from Boeing (NYSE:BA)", Chief Executive Akbar Al Baker said on Wednesday.
"We are seriously looking at placing a large cargo order, a freighter order, because ... as we are also growing our freight business, we need to be sustainable in that and we are going to imminently place a large freighter order," Al Baker said.
"Of course, I cannot tell you with whom we are going to place the order. But one thing I can say is that the proposal we have received from Boeing is very attractive to the airline."
The comment strengthens signs that Qatar Airways may become the launch customer for a new freighter version of the Boeing 777X jetliner. It would compete with a cargo version of the Airbus A350, which secured its first buyer at the Dubai Airshow.
"We don't only look at the price, we look at the performance, and I think the aircraft that Boeing is developing will outperform the current fleet that we have," Al Baker said.
Al Baker was speaking to reporters at a ceremony to present the passenger version of the world's largest twin-engined jetliner, the 777X, which arrived in Doha on Wednesday after staging a public debut at the Dubai Airshow.
The successor to Boeing's best-selling 777 wide-body passenger plane has been delayed by at least two and a half years amid uncertainty over the timetable for certification.
Al Baker said Qatar Airways expected to receive its first passenger version of the 777X in 2023. Boeing said this week it was sticking to plans to deliver the plane in that year.