Boeing launches new freighter with Qatar Airways order

B777-8F. Source: Qatar Airways

Qatar Airways has ordered up to 50 Boeing 777-8 freighters as the airframer adds a new model to cater for growing cargo demand.

The Middle East-based airline ordered 34 of the aircraft with options for a further 16 in a deal that is valued at more than $20bn based on list prices. It is the largest freighter commitment in Boeing’s history by value.

Boeing said the B777-8F, which will be part of the B777X family, offers a maximum structural payload of 118 tonnes and a range of 8,167 km. The first delivery is expected in 2027.

“With payload capacity nearly identical to the B747-400 Freighter and a 25% improvement in fuel efficiency, emissions and operating costs, the B777-8 Freighter will enable a more sustainable and profitable business for operators,” Boeing said.

Qatar Airways Group chief executive Akbar Al Baker said: “Boeing has a long history of building market-leading freighter aircraft and Qatar Airways is honored to have the opportunity to be the launch customer for the 777-8 Freighter, an aircraft which will not only allow us to further enhance our product offering for our customers, but also help us meet our objectives to deliver a sustainable future for our business.

“Today marks a great day in the ever-building and strong relationship between Qatar Airways and Boeing. We certainly push Boeing hard to deliver upon our expectations, and the team at Boeing consistently strives to meet and exceed our expectations, giving the opportunity for us to be here today to launch the most significant new freighter aircraft for a generation.”

Boeing Commercial Airplanes president and chief executive Stan Deal added: “We are delighted to launch Boeing’s next great cargo airplane – the 777-8 Freighter – with Qatar Airways, one of the world’s largest cargo carriers and our partner since the airline began operations 25 years ago.

“Our team is ready to create an airplane that will serve them well for many decades. Qatar Airways’ selection of the efficient 777-8 Freighter is a testament to our commitment to provide freighters with market-leading capacity, reliability and efficiency.”

The widebody B777X family features engineering design improvements and innovative technologies, including a new carbon-fiber composite wing and new fuel-efficient engines, Boeing added. The aircraft will be built at the airframer’s Everett, Washington site.

Of Qatar’s 34 777-8F orders, 20 are conversions of Qatar’s existing orders for passenger 777X, Boeing says.

777-8, which is smaller than the baseline 777-9. The company previously intended for the 777-8 to be a passenger aircraft, but shelved that programme in 2019.

Boeing’s first 777X – the 777-9, a passenger jet – remains in the certification process, with the airframer aiming to deliver the first by late 2023. All 777X have GE Aviation GE9X powerplants.

The order comes shortly after Airbus launched its A350F which will compete with the B777-8F.

Last year, there had been speculation that Qatar Airways could be the launch customer for the A350 freighter aircraft.

In a June interview with Reuters, Qatar Airways chief executive Akbar Al Baker said that the company was considering an order for 30 or more freighters from Airbus or Boeing as part of a fleet renewal programme.

However, a bitter dispute between Airbus and Qatar over the A350 passenger aircraft has makes an order for the freighter version from Qatar unlikely for now.

News broke in 2021 that Qatar grounded A350s due to what it described as quality shortcomings involving the jets’ paint – allegations Airbus has called inaccurate.

Qatar sued Airbus in a London court last December, and in January Airbus disclosed it had cancelled orders by Qatar for 50 A321neos.

The deal was officially signed at the White House with commerce secretary Gina Raimondo, ambassador Mishaal bin Hamad Al Thani, director of the White House national economic council Brian Deese, and Boeing president and chief Dave Calhoun in attendance. The agreement was signed by Boeing Commercial Airplanes president and chief executive Stan Deal and Qatar Airways Group chief executive Akbar Al Baker.

B777-8F facts

Maximum structural payload: 118.3 tonnes (260,600 lb)
Maximum revenue payload: 112.3 tonnes (247,500 lb)
Range: 4,410 nautical miles (8,167 km)
Wingspan: 235 feet, 5 inches (71.8 m)
On ground: 212 feet, 8 inches (64.8 m)
Length: 232 feet, 6 inches (70.86 m)
Maximum takeoff weight: 805,000 lb (365,160 kg)
Engine: General Electric GE9X
Total cargo volume: 27,056 ft3 (766 m3)
Maindeck capacity: 31 pallets
Lower hold capacity: 13 pallets + bulk cargo, or 5,995 cu ft (169.8 cu m)
Launch: January 2022
First delivery: 2027

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Damian Brett

Damian Brett
I have been writing about the freight and logistics industry since 2007 when I joined International Freighting Weekly to cover the shipping sector.After a stint in PR, I have gone on to work for Containerisation International and Lloyds List - where I was editor of container shipping - before joining Air Cargo News in 2015.Contact me on [email protected]