Here is a quick blow-by-blow of the Press Conference (appologies about spelling and grammar errors, I was in a hurry noting it all down):
Mr Al Baker of Qatar Airways speaking. QR
will order 32 Airbuses. TO
be delivered during next 7 years. Will increase fleet 24 to 56 aircraft. US$5.1B. Largest order QR
has made. Reflects confidence in QR
becoming world's best airline. Confidence in growth increasingly competitive market. QR
will keep servicing a growing number of destinations, and offer its guests a number of services. Allow QR
as an international airline that will service destinations across the globe. Will allow the airline to extend operations beyond their current scope. Capacity to operate non-stop flights to the USA and other destinations. He is discreet to avoid giving away secrets to competitors. Details:
14 A330. Options on another 6. A330s delivered from September 2004 up to 2008. General Electric Engines
2 A340-600HGW. Options on another 8. Delivered June 2006 to June 2010
2 A321s to be delivered from April next year
2 A330-200s for a 5 year lease from July 2004.
Complements existing order of
2 A380 (to be delivered in 2009)
A319LR (operating on the Moscow service)
Noel Forgeard. Great day for Airbus - Qatar has a lot of confidence in the Airbus product line. Qatar Airways remains an all-Airbus operator. QR
is a reference airline which has established standards of services in the Middle East which are unprecedented. At QR
, everything is perfect, details thought through. Qatar is pursuing a 'centres of excellence' strategy, of which QR
is an examples, as well as the new Doha airport to open in 2008. Transaction was signed this morning in the Elysée Palace in the presence of the Emir of Qatar, and French President Jacques Chirac. Signifies relationship between France and Qatar.
Issues raised from questions:
- Deal will be financed by international banks. Syndicated loan, guaranteed by Qatar. With Qatar's credit rating so high, Al Baker is certain bankers will be keen to speak to him soon. Banks they are already working with have shown interest to finance additional orders.
- Changes to the HGW A340-600 is an evolution of the design. Will give more payload-range capacity - 8 tonne higher MTOW. 200 additional NM
in range. Full commonality between this and the base -600. Evolution made possible by margins that existed in the Trent engine.
- Al Baker, on the subject of competition with Emirates: 'A successful general never lays out his battle plans in advance'. All of QR
's options have been confirmed prior to due dates. Options provide a cushion. QR
's expansion always on schedule. 5 year business plan shows growth of 14%. But so far growth has exceeded 35% YoY. He is not here to talk about other airlines in the region - he concentrates on his own airline and its growth.
is focused on high quality service. They are the first airline with an all premium class A319. They are soon to order a second. The A319 with 36 first class seats complements other aircraft. At the same time, it is available for charter. A very high charter demand for the aircraft. The A319LR is a service innovation, used for route development. They dont want to go with high cost large aircraft to develop routes. Then routes can move to A300 or A330 (A300 to be phased out in 3 years time). A319LR - widebody amennities in a narrowbody fuselage.
- Part of the deal is for replacement of 7 leased A300-600 - the rest are growth.
is a bit late in signing purchase agreement for the A380. They are now ready to sign the purchase agreement, which will be done before the end of next month.
- A380 will be used for long range flights, and slot restricted flights. Very soon, main European airports will be slot restricted. Will have to go there with larger aircraft. Plans to use it on very extended long range operations. A380 will be very stylish - an ultra-luxury liner. Many innovations to be introduced. QR
will develop amennities first. Only 493 passengers. Could be further orders for the A380, including freighters. Possibility of 4 more options taken in the near future. But want steady growth.
were looking at both Airbus and Boeing. The A340-600 was seen to be a better fit for the route network. Maximum revenue able to be generated is what will tip the balance. QR
are an exclusively Airbus operator, but competition will be open in the future - QR
believes strongly in competition. QR
look after the interests of the Airline, not the manufacturer.
- Not a question of discounts - 'we aren't in a supermarket, this is a serious business'. Discounts aren't necessarily discounts in the long run. Buy based on what an aircraft will give at the end of a 20 year service life.
- Really no such thing as exclusivity. Airbus are in a world of competition. Very few airlines are exclusive to a manufacturer.
- Al Baker is a believer that in the medium term, airlines that are not in an alliance will have difficulty remaining in the market place. QR
codeshares with various airlines, and this is increasing. Still thinking about which alliance best suits their airline, and which alliance they suit best.