PARIS Qatar Airways has firmed up an order for 20 Boeing (BA.N) 737 MAX jets and is awaiting the outcome of possible expansion in Italy and India before deciding whether to exercise further options, the carrier’s CEO said on Monday.
Qatar Airways signed a letter of intent for up to 60 narrowbody 737 MAX 8 jets, worth $6.9 billion at list prices, last year.
“We have another 40 options and purchase rights, which we could exercise depending on the way forward with both Meridiana and our Indian carrier,” Akbar Al Baker told journalists at the Paris Airshow on Monday.
Qatar Airways has been in talks over a stake in Italian carrier Meridiana and is planning to set up a domestic airline in India.
Al Baker also said the CSeries jet by Bombardier (BBDb.TO) could fit for the domestic Indian carrier.
“Instead of ATRs or Q400s, I could use the CSeries on short-runway destinations in India,” he said.
He added Qatar Airways was not interested in larger variants of the 737 MAX because it was ordering A321neo (AIR.PA) jets.
The carrier has been in talks with Airbus to change an order for A320neos for the larger A321neo variant after problems with the engines made by Pratt & Whitney.
Al Baker said he was close to finalizing negotiations with Airbus to switch to the rival Leap engine made by CFM, a joint venture of General Electric (GE.N) and Safran (SAF.PA).
(Reporting by Victoria Bryan; Editing by Mark Potter)