Following the third delay of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, Qatar Airways is seeking compensation from the Seattle-based aircraft manufacturer, according to the airline's chief executive.
Qatar Airways has 60 Dreamliners – 30 options and 30 firm – on order.
The delivery of the 787s for the Doha-based carrier, originally scheduled for end-2010, has been delayed by a year. "We are going to seek solid compensation for the delay, as it is also stated in our contract," said Chief Executive Akbar Al Baker.
"Besides seeking cash compensation, we will exercise the purchase options we have on the 777s to take us through the delay of the 787," he added.
At the moment the carrier is looking at five 777s to compensate for the delay, Al Baker said. "There is a possibility that we may ask for more 777s, or we will lease some planes." Asked about publicly listing the company, Al Baker said: "We will do an IPO only when the airline becomes profitable, which is beyond 2011."
He also said that the current credit crisis in the world is not impacting the airline in a major way. "Our credibility in the financial market is very strong. The only problem we have right now is that the cost of borrowings to us has gone up a bit. Other than that, we have no issues," he added.
Currently operating a fleet of 62 aircraft, Qatar Airways has 200 aircraft worth $30 billion (Dh1.1trn) on order, including 80 A350s, 60 787s and 30 777s.
The aim is to have 110 aircraft in its fleet by 2013. "We are planning new routes in India, China and the United States," said Al Baker.
He added the airline will be launching flights to Houston – its third US destination – in November this year, followed by flights to South America next year.
A day after European manufacture warned its A380 customers of further delays, Al Baker said the airline may order additional Airbus A380 aircraft as part of its expansion plans.
"We have five A380 superjumbos on order. We will look to increase the order of the A380 but I cannot say yet by how much," he said.
"Airbus has not sent us any letter indicating further delays for the A380. Our aircraft will be delivered to us as per the schedule in 2012. And we want the delivery to happen when the new Doha terminal is ready," he added.
The airline was originally supposed to receive the A380 aircraft in 2009, but consciously delayed it until 2012, to be in line with the opening of Doha's new airport, Al Baker said.
Flying on gas
By the middle to the end of next year, Qatar Airways will have its aircraft flying on gas-to-liquid (GTL) alternative fuels.
Al Baker said it would be across the carrier's fleet "on the condition that engine manufacturers accept them because it has to be certified as all our fleet is not run by Rolls-Royce engines. So, GE and others will have to certify it".
"Until that time it will be only on engines that are certified – only four planes run on Rolls-Royce engines, who we are working with to develop the GTL," said Al Baker.
"However, GTL is not cheaper than kerosene. It is only cleaner and will be able to take the plane further," he said.
$30bn: Qatar Airways currently has 200 aircraft worth this amount on order.