Qatar Airways plans to add another five 777Fs to its freighter fleet, the carrier announced today as part of a commitment signed with Boeing at the Paris Air Show. The carrier is already the second-largest operator of the type, with sixteen 777Fs currently in service and another five on order, excluding today’s commitment, which if firmed would boost the carrier’s 777F backlog to ten units [FATs 005006-5010].
For now, the carrier’s fleet stands at twenty-three aircraft units, with sixteen 777Fs, two 747-8Fs and five A330-200Fs. Four more 777Fs are due to arrive this year, and at least one in 2020. Although QR Cargo did not address any retirements or other fleet changes in conjunction with the commitment, Cargo Facts has previously reported that A330-200F retirements are likely as the 777Fs are delivered. The airline has already begun to reduce the number of A330-200Fs it operates, from eight at the beginning of last year, to five today, following the removal of three leased A330-200Fs. The remaining five A330-200Fs in Qatar’s fleet, meanwhile, are owned, but they too could be retired as more 777Fs are delivered. Earlier this year, Qatar Airways announced plans to consolidate the number of platforms in its passenger fleet and remove the twenty A330s currently operating in passenger configuration from service by 2024. Cargo Facts wouldn’t be surprised if the A330-200Fs are gone by then as well.
As for what kind of routes the incoming aircraft may serve, the carrier has outlined plans to launch additional trans-Pacific flights using its 777Fs starting next month, including Hanoi (HAN) to Dallas (DFW), Singapore (SIN) to Chicago (ORD) and SIN to Los Angeles (LAX) and Mexico City (MEX). These will complement Qatar’s existing round-the-world flight from Doha (DOH) to Macau (MFM), LAX, MEX, Guadalajara (GDL), Liege (LGG) and DOH.
The growth of Qatar Airways’ freighter fleet is in stark contrast to Emirates, which recently withdrew its second 777F from service as it increasingly looks to source maindeck capacity from partners such as Cargolux and Etihad.