(Adds detail from interview)
By Alwyn Scott and Mike Stone
NEW YORK/WASHINGTON Oct 7 Gulf carrier Qatar
Airways ordered 40 Boeing Co widebody jets valued at
$11.7 billion and signed a letter of intent for up to 60
narrowbody 737 MAX 8 jets worth $6.9 billion, Boeing and the
airline said on Friday.
The agreement for up to 100 jetliners potentially worth
$18.6 billion helps fill out Boeing's order book in a year when
sales have slowed sharply, and amid tough price competition with
European rival Airbus.
The deal marked a key commitment by Qatar Airways to
Boeing's new 737 MAX jetliner, after it refused to accept three
of Airbus' competing A320 aircraft earlier this year. Qatar has
not ordered 737s previously.
Airline Chief Executive Officer Akbar Al Baker took the
opportunity of the announcement in Washington to further press
Boeing to build a new jet slightly larger than the 737 to fill a
gap in Boeing's product line.
Asked in an interview when he expected to hear more about
that proposed plane, Al Baker said: "Yesterday!"
Ray Conner, CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes, in the same
interview, said Boeing continues to evaluate such a plane and
talk with customers.
"I think we have a pretty good idea today as to what our
customers would like to see with respect to seat count, range
capabilities," Conner said, adding that Boeing understands how
quickly customers want the plane.
"Now it's a matter of us going back and doing our homework
and figuring out how do we put all of that together," he said.
"I can't give you a real time frame on that, but we're certainly
working the heck out of it right now."
The deal for 30 of Boeing's 787-9 Dreamliners and 10 of its
777-300ER aircraft is significantly larger than an order for
five Boeing 777-300ER aircraft worth $1.7 billion that the
carrier had been expected to place during Britain's Farnborough
Airshow in July.
That announcement was postponed by Qatar in an effort to
speed up U.S. approval of its purchase of Boeing fighter jets,
sources familiar with the situation said.
The orders announced on Friday are worth $11.7 billion at
list prices, with an additional list value of $6.9 billion if
all of the 737 MAX jets are purchased. Airlines typically
receive steep discounts on large orders.
Boeing shares were down 0.7 percent at $133.51 in afternoon
trading on the New York Stock Exchange.
Qatar Airways' order is likely to further intensify concern
among U.S. airlines about what they term unfair subsidies that
Gulf carriers receive.
Earlier on Friday, Delta Air Lines Chief Executive Officer
Ed Bastian said Qatar Airways, Etihad Airways and Emirates
airline had received $50 billion in illegal subsidies, financing
that allows the carriers to offer some 30 flights a day to the
United States at fares substantially below what U.S. airlines
The United Arab Emirates and Qatar together have a
population the size of the U.S. state of Ohio, but "they have
more widebodies on order than all the Chinese airlines and U.S.
airlines combined," Bastian said at an event in New York.
"That doesn't sound fair, that doesn't sound free," he said.
The three Gulf carriers deny receiving subsidies, and other
powerful U.S. businesses, including FedEx Corp and
Boeing, oppose changes to Open Skies agreements with Gulf
(Additional reporting by Mike Stone in Washington; Editing by
Phil Berlowitz and Lisa Shumaker)