A meaningful silence?

  • David Harris
  • February 13, 2012
  • Archive

It’s another cold, wet Monday morning in Seattle, and most of us here at Cargo Facts wish we were in Singapore where the big Airshow is about to start. Looks like it’s wet there, too, but at least we wouldn’t be cold. But thinking about the Singapore show reminded me of the Dubai show three months ago…

As you may remember, the loudest sound at that show was not the engines of the jets flying by, but rather the sound of Akbar al Baker, the outspoken CEO of Qatar Airways, demanding that Airbus launch an A330 passenger-to-freighter conversion program. He berated the company frequently and loudly, and threatened to place a big order with Boeing for 767 conversions if Airbus did not immediately launch the A330 program. He also hinted that even if Airbus wasn’t interested in an A330 conversion program on its own merits, it ought to consider the consequences of not launching one, given that Qatar was quite capable of not following through on other planned orders.

In response, Airbus sales boss John Leahy was quoted as saying the manufacturer was talking to Singapore Technologies Aerospace about converting A330s, and then…

Silence. Silence and a big order from Qatar for A320s and A380s.

Now silence may be a relief for those who have been subjected to too much noise, but it is not Mr. Al Baker’s way of dealing with problems. So, given the aircraft order, the reported discussions between Airbus and ST Aero, and the silence emanating from Doha, we expected an announcement about an A330 program. Either that or a big order for 767-300 conversions. But neither occurred, and the silence is now approaching three months. All of which makes us wonder if this week’s Singapore Air Show may be the venue for the long-awaited announcement. The Singapore show has become one of the most important events on the aviation calendar, Mr. Al Baker and Mr. Leahy are almost certain to be there, and Singapore is the home of ST Aerospace…

Perhaps Qatar has decided against converting its A330 fleet to freighter configuration and the whole matter has been forgotten. We’ll know in a few days.

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