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The three Qatar Airways 777 Freighters lined up at Paine Field. (Photo: Boeing)

Qatar Airways Welcomes Trio of 777 Freighters

The travel demand slump in the airline industry is continuing into the new year as a result of the COVID-19 crisis. While airlines observe a slight rise due to the holiday season, the gains are small, marginal and temporary. Air travel demand levels are not expected to return to pre-COVID-19 levels for quite some time. With weak passenger load factors, airlines can shift their operations accordingly, to focus on transporting cargo and freight. On New Years Day, Qatar Airways welcomed three brand new Boeing 777 freighters to its existing air cargo fleet. 

Qatar’s flag carrier plans to introduce the new freighters on its long-haul routes and use them for cargo charters to move time and temperature-sensitive goods. The airline will also continue transporting supplies such as medicines, perishables and other essential goods with these three new jets.

Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive, Akbar Al Baker, said: “With the arrival of these new freighters, we are injecting much-needed capacity in the market helping support global supply chains at a critical time during the pandemic. The added capacity will enable us to support the logistics around the COVID-19 vaccination which is projected to be one of the greatest logistical challenges for the industry.”

Qatar Airways Cargo’s new trio of 777 freighters will join an existing fleet of 30 cargo jets. The airline will now operate 24 777s, along with two Boeing 747-8s and four Airbus A330s. 

“During these challenging times, Qatar Airways Cargo has been transporting humanitarian relief and medical goods to those in need, and we are proud that their growing fleet of 777 Freighters is supporting such a commendable effort,” Ihssane Mounir, Senior Vice President, Commercial Sales and Marketing, The Boeing Company, said. “We deeply appreciate our long-standing partnership with Qatar Airways and their confidence in the 777 Freighters as the backbone of their expansive global air cargo operations.”

The delivery of these jets also marked the 200th delivery of a 777 Freighter from Boeing.

Operations On Two Different Fields

Travel restrictions continue in many countries. While the restrictions affect Qatar Airways’ international route network, the carrier has chosen to join other airlines such as Delta, United, and American to transport the essential COVID-19 vaccine appropriately. 

However, the airline continues to hold on to expanding its international route network – notable for its global connectivity – through different methods. In mid-December 2020, Qatar Airways’ senior leadership members and the ambassador of Canada to Qatar welcomed Air Canada’s inaugural from Toronto to Doha. 

Al Baker said, “Air Canada, one of the most successful airlines in North America, will add huge value to Qatar Airways’ expanding network. Canada is a strategically important market for Qatar Airways, and this service will complement our existing four-weekly service to Montreal and provide our travelers with additional options when planning travel to and from Canada,” a philosophy that was characterized by the airline’s expanding, global connectivity despite COVID-19.

On New Year’s Eve, the carrier announced its inaugural flight to Seattle will begin earlier than originally announced, on January 29, instead of March 15. Seattle will join the airline’s existing U.S. destinations: San Francisco, Boston, Chicago, Dallas/Ft. Worth, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Philadelphia and Washington, DC. 

Essentially, its triumph as one of the leading carriers from the Middle East or Gulf Region lies in its continuation of global connectivity through its partnerships and commitment to beginning new flight routes. 

Qatar Airways is combatting COVID-19 in two different fields: air cargo and commercial travel. However, if Qatar Airways’ sustains its global connectivity, while it alternates between commercial flights and air cargo,  the airline is composed to smoothly transition into the post-COVID-19 industry.

New Year, New Jets

Just hours before the deliveries from Boeing, Qatar Airways welcomed its 53rd A350 in Doha on New Year’s Eve. The airline is the largest Airbus A350 operator in the world with 34 A350-900s and 19 A350-1000s in the fleet.

Qatar Airways A350-900 A7-AMF touching down on runway 25L at Brandenburg Airport (Photo: AirlineGeeks | James Dinsdale)

Al Baker said: “This strategic investment in sustainable twin-engine aircraft has enabled us to continue flying during the most challenging year in aviation’s history, helping take over 3.1 million people home since the start of the pandemic.” He continued to state: “As global travel recovers, our passengers can rely on us to fly greener and smarter with more flights to more destinations via the Best Airport in the Middle East, Hamad International Airport.”

Qatar Airways now flies an A350 fleet with an average age of 2.7 years. As the new year progresses, the airline is also expected to take delivery of its first Airbus A321LR.

Benjamin Pham
Benjamin Pham
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