Was Qatar Airways’ Boeing 737 MAX MoU A Distraction Tactic?

LONDON – With Qatar Airways’ Memorandum of Understanding for Boeing’s 737 MAX aircraft lapsing, was this a distraction tactic all along?

According to Reuters, the provisional deal to purchase 50 MAX jets has lapsed, with this information being established at the Airbus-Qatar Airways lawsuit battle in London.

With this in mind, we do have an important question to ask: Was this a distraction tactic cleverly placed by Qatar Airways to put pressure on Airbus to act?

Does Qatar Still Favour Airbus?

Before the surface erosion claims came to light, Airbus did have a substantial order book and existing fleet with Airbus. The MAX order was in response to the cancellation of the Airbus A321neos.

It does show that the previous level of commitment made to Airbus represented a solid relationship with the company, as well as with Boeing through the 777, 787, and then the 777X in the future too.

Looking at the behavior of Qatar Airways, they were not the ones that canceled the order for the A321neos. It was Airbus. So it does beg the question of whether Qatar would still take those aircraft had the orders not been canceled.

This is of course why Qatar Airways responded by adding more money to the compensation value for each day there is no resolution, it is all a question of power and politics at this stage.

Could We See A Blockbuster Confirmation at Farnborough?

With the MAX deal lapsed, there is nothing stopping Qatar Airways from reaffirming its support for the MAX. And Farnborough will be the perfect setting to make a decision.

It’s probably safe to assume this will happen, given the fact Qatar would be branded as hypocrites if they were to order Airbus aircraft whilst undergoing a lawsuit in London.

With the 777X side of things not lapsed, as far as we know, this could of course form the foundation for conversion into a firm order as opposed to sticking with a lapsed MoU.

Either way, this is why Farnborough is going to be an airshow to look out for. Carriers are recovering and are thinking about future growth plans, so it’s going to be interesting to see how this pans out.

Boeing Have Their Own Problems: MAX 10 Potential Cancellation & 777X Delays…

Boeing, have, of course, got their own problems at the moment. Reports from this week are suggesting a potential cancellation of the overall MAX 10 program, which will put a dent in the MAX order book.

That, on top of the 777X delays, is going to make such a decision by Qatar Airways very difficult and interesting to make. If nothing is announced at Farnborough, then you can assume the deal with Boeing is as good as dead.

On a purely speculative note, Boeing has tried to keep their cards close to its chest on the Qatar order, especially with the manufacturer declining to comment on the status.

Whether that is a message of order cancellation or not, Farnborough will definitely provide the answer we are looking for.


It remains clear that when the order was placed in January, it is appearing to be a distraction and strategic tactic to put pressure on Airbus.

However, Qatar Airways could always firm up an order and go through with this pressure at the air show, just to stick a further knife in the back to make their point.

Either way, the next week or so at the Farnborough Air Show will be one to look out for, as this will set the foundations for future relationships that Qatar Airways wishes to maintain.

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