Aircraft manufacturer Boeing shares a healthy and “strong” relationship with fast-growing Qatar Airways, despite all the problems faced by its beleaguered Dreamliner aircraft, a senior Boeing executive has said.
“He [Akbar Al Baker, Qatar Airways’ CEO] has been amazingly supportive [about Dreamliner’s problems] and I appreciate that, Boeing appreciates that,” said Marty Bentrott, vice president of sales at Boeing Commercial.
“The relationship is very strong; it’s kind of like a marriage. Sometimes things are okay and sometimes you’re fighting a little bit.
“He has high expectations and why shouldn’t he, he runs one of the greatest airlines in the world,” said Bentrott.
Following its delayed launch, Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner has been hit by a spate of issues including fuel leaks and battery fires.
In January this year, all the 787s in operation were grounded due to problems with the plane’s lithium-ion battery, and were only given regulatory approval by the US Federal Aviation Administration to restart operations from May.
Qatar Airways, one of the 787’s major buyers, was forced to scale down expansion plans because of the grounding.
“I wanted to launch 15 routes this year, now I can only launch 10. I am very unhappy,” Al Baker told Gulf Business in May this year.
While Bentrott acknowledged the issue, he stressed that it had been resolved.
“There have been some challenges and I do not think any airline CEO would be feeling very positive if they had five airplanes sitting on the ground.
“We’ve moved on past that and I think our biggest focus right now is helping that airline restore the reliability levels of the 787 to what we’ve promised and they should expect.”
Bentrott would not comment whether Boeing compensated Qatar Airways following the grounding, after Al Baker said he would demand remuneration.
The relationship also showed signs of healing again at the Paris Air Show this year, where Al Baker announced a commitment for more Boeing planes.
“Qatar is one of the strongest growing airlines in the region and with the development of the new airport in Doha, there’s going to be a lot of aircrafts both delivered to Qatar Airways and sold in the future to Qatar Airways,” Bentrott said.
“They, like Emirates, will start looking at a replacement cycle of some of their existing products probably around 2020, so the demand in Qatar is going to be very strong.”