From Qatar’s press release:
Baghdad, IRAQ – Qatar Airways has in the span of just two weeks expanded passenger services to Iraq with the launch of its second destination in the country – to the capital Baghdad.
The Doha-based airline is operating four-flights-a-week non-stop on the Baghdad route. Located on the banks of the Tigris River, Iraq’s capital is one of the Arab world’s largest cities.
The move comes just two weeks after Qatar Airways launched flights, also four-times-a-week, to the northern Iraqi city of Erbil.
Cargo traffic bound for Iraq will see a boost when Qatar Airways launches a dedicated weekly freighter service to Erbil, effective July 5.
Both the Erbil and Baghdad passenger services are being operated with an Airbus A320 in a two-class configuration of 12 seats in Business Class and 132 in Economy.
Qatar Airways Senior Vice-President GCC, Levant, Iran, Iraq and Indian Sub continent Fathi Al Shehab was onboard inaugural flight QR442 to Baghdad, which arrived at the city’s international airport to a traditional water salute welcome followed by an airport ceremony attended by local officials and media.
The addition of Baghdad takes Qatar Airways’ global network to 116 destinations worldwide. Qatar Airways’ passengers flying to Iraq from destinations across the Gulf, Europe, Indian subcontinent, Asia Pacific and The Americas can seamlessly connect via the airline’s Doha hub.
Qatar Airways Chief Executive Officer Akbar Al Baker said: “Baghdad had long been on our list of destinations which we identified as being a key part of growing our Middle East network.
“During Iraq’s current period of reform and development, with industries resurging and many new companies expanding operations to Iraq, we felt this was the time to move into the country.
“With our new passenger flights to both Baghdad and Erbil, together with our new dedicated freighter service to Erbil starting next month, Qatar Airways is offering excellent capacity to and from the country.”
Cargolux Boeing 747-8F
Boeing was set to deliver their first 747-8F to Cargolux on September 19th, but at the last minute, the Luxembourg-based cargo company put the deal on hold and the delivery was postponed. Both Boeing and Cargolux kept quiet and rumors started about the reasoning behind this odd business maneuver. According to Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker, who has a 35% stake in Cargolux, the issues stem from the 747-8F being 2.7% less fuel efficient than advertised. Al Baker stated that the issues causing the airline to back out of accepting delivery are related to GE, who built the engines on the 747-8F, and not Boeing. At this point, Cargolux is expected to take ownership of their first 747-8F on October 12th, pending the airlines board approving during their meeting on October 7th.
During a Boeing 777 delivery event for Qatar Airways, Al Baker was asked about Cargolux and their handling of the situation. “Unfortunately, the management of Cargolux did not take the action they should have taken during the process of the aircraft acceptance,” Al-Baker stated according to Bloomberg. “As we sit on the board of Cargolux, we have full right to object if we find something is not fair as far as Cargolux is concerned.”
One of the loudest rumors about this deal was that Qatar Airways was holding Cargolux’s 747-8F hostage for a better compensation deal on their 787 Dreamliners. However, Al Baker clearly stated that the Cargolux 747-8F delay has nothing to do with compensation for the 787 Dreamliner. “The issue really with this aircraft has nothing to do with Boeing. It has to do with an issue that we had with the engine manufacturer,” Al Baker said according to the Seattle PI. “This issue has been resolved” subject to board approval.
GE has already announced that they are working on a Performance Improvement Package (PIP) for the the GEnx-2B engine found on the 747-8. The package is not slated to be ready until mid-2013.
Even with all the issues that Qatar and Cargolux have recently had with Boeing, according to ArabianBusiness.com, Al-Baker described his relationship with Boeing as strong, “despite a few hiccups along the way.” At this point, it is not certain what the delivery celebration will entail and Boeing is waiting until after the October 7th board meeting to announce any plans.
We still do not know much about what has caused Cargolux to pull out of taking delivery of their first new Boeing 747-8Fs.
As announced last week, Cargolux refused to take delivery of their first two Boeing 747-8 Freighters. They were supposed to take delivery of their first one yesterday and their second one tomorrow, but at this point no one is sure when the deliveries will occur.
Not many people are talking about what is going on. Boeing told me via email, “Nothing new to report. Same status as Friday,” which means, “We have unresolved issues between ourselves and Cargolux. We are working with our customer to determine a date for delivery.” Luckily for us, some journalists have received “insider” information that puts some light on what is going on between Boeing and Cargolux.
At the beginning of this controversy, some thought this might have something to do with the Boeing 747-8F not living up to performance expectations. It appears that performance issues might have something to do with this, but it might be more politically motivated.
Scott Hamilton, with Flightglobal, is reporting that Qatar Airways, who recently purchased a 35% stake in Cargolux, is requiring additional compensation for delays to their Boeing 787 Dreamliners. Previously Qatar and Boeing had an agreement on that compensation, but it appears that Qatar might be looking for a better deal. According to Hamilton’s sources, “Qatar’s chief executive Akbar Al-Baker views the compensation for Cargolux as setting a benchmark for the sum due for the delays to Qatar’s 787s.”
Hamilton is also reporting that that another, unnamed, Boeing 747-8F customer is looking for changes in their contracts. Originally they were slated to take delivery of the first test aircraft (presumably at a lower price), but now are wanting aircraft that will not require re-working after they take delivery.
It seems unlikely that this dispute would only revolve around the Boeing 747-8’s performance issues, since Boeing has been forthcoming about the aircraft’s additional weight for quite some time. In an email to the Puget Sound Business Journal Boeing stated, “It’s misleading to say we missed our specifications. After we set our original specification, we completely redesigned the wing, which is significantly heavier, but more than makes up for that in increased aerodynamic efficiency and lower fuel burn.”
In a press release, issued by Cargolux, they confirmed that they are working with Boeing to resolve contract issues, but are ready to move forward with leasing additional aircraft if needed. “In the event that the issues cannot be resolved in a timely manner, Cargolux will source alternative capacity to fully meet customer demand and expectations ahead of the traditional high season.”
Jon Ostrower on Flightglobal is reporting that delivery of Cargolux’s two 747-8Fs during the week of September 19th-24th is, “highly unlikely.” It doesn’t seem anyone (even Boeing and Cargolux) are sure when the aircraft might be delivered.
Yesterday, Brandon Farris caught a Cargolux Boeing 747-400 landing at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA). It is not unusual to see Cargolux aircraft at SEA, but the timing was a bit off from when they usually fly in. This particular aircraft runs between Mexico (MEX), Atlanta (ATL), New York (JFK), Houston (IAH), and Luxembourg (LUX), but not Seattle. I assume that this 747-400 picked up cargo at SEA that the first Cargolux Boeing 747-8F was supposed to deliver to Luxembourg (where Cargolux is head quartered).
At first, it appeared that Boeing might come off looking like the bad one in this conflict, but if the rumors of Qatar Airways strong arming Boeing into a better deal for the 787s at the expense of Cargolux not receiving their 747-8Fs, then Boeing might not coming off looking so poorly.
I will be sure to keep you all updated as new information surfaces.
Guy Norris, with Aviation Week, goes into detail on what the Boeing 747-8F is lacking as far as performance (thanks @mtrumpbour for pointing this out). He states that there is a 2.7% greater fuel burn than expected. GE is working on a fuel savings package for their GEnx-2B engines on the 747-8F, but those will not be completed until 3rd quarter 2013 and are only expected to improve fuel consumption by 1.6%.
Norris states that Qatar Airway’s deal to purchase a 35% stake occurred in June, 2011, but it took three months to be ratified by the governments of each country. This happened only a few days before the 747-8F deliveries were to take place.
Ostrower, who is currently in Seattle for the 747-8F delivery, caught Boeing doing some interesting 747-8F moving around today at Paine Fieldand posted on his Flickr.
UPDATE 2 9/21 7:30am:
Matt Cawby with KPAE Blog is reporting that one of Cargolux’s Boeing 747-8Fs (LX-VCB) went on a customer test flight, meaning the airline’s pilots were on board. This normally is a sign that Boeing is getting close to delivery. Cawby is hearing rumors that the first aircraft might deliver Tuesday September 27th.
Firdaus Hashim on Flighglobal is reporting that Cathay Pacific Airways is “satisfied” with their 747-8Fs, which they are expected to take delivery of in October. “Cathay Pacific’s commercial arrangements with all its suppliers, including Boeing, are confidential. However, we are satisfied that our commercial arrangements with Boeing take account of the known and disclosed specification and performance characteristics of the aircraft,” said Hong Kong’s flag carrier in a statement.
Thanks to Marshall Autry (Vintage Racer) for letting me use his photo.
Malaysia Airlines has announced no kids in first class, will Ryanair ban all kids from some of their flights too?
Recently Malaysia Airlines announced they would no longer allow babies to fly in their first class cabins on Boeing 747-400s and Airbus A380s when they go into service. This comes after complaints by first class passengers, who pay a pretty penny, not wanting to hear screaming kids during their flight. The airline has stated they have tried noise cancelling headphones, but passengers wanted the baby-ban. The airline still plans to allow babies in business and economy class seats.
Ryanair also recently announced they would start offering child-free flights this October. However, they announced the new flights right before April’s Fools and they have not officially announced one way or another if they will actually be offering the flights.
On the other side of the spectrum, I just got an email in my inbox this morning from Qatar Airways stating that two kids can fly for free (plus taxes and surcharges) with one adult. It doesn’t appear to be directly related to Malaysia Airlines not allowing babies to fly, but it is pretty good timing.
Reading many of the comments on the internet after Ryanair’s announcement and even more recently after Malaysia Airlines’ baby-ban statement, there seems to be a lot of popularity behind not allowing or restricting children from flying. Personally I do not have my own kids, nor am I a big fan of screaming kids on an airline, but it almost seems that is just part of living in a society — being around kids.
I am curious to get your thoughts and figured it is about time for another poll (Note: if you are reading this on the Seattle PI or Reuters synidcation, you will have to go to http://www.airlinereporter.com to vote):
If an airline outright banned all kids, there would probably be a huge backlash , even though it seems most people do not want kids on their flight. An airline like Ryanair might be able to get away with it, but look at all the attention Malaysia Airlines received just from banning kids from first class on only two aircraft type. We will have to wait until October to see if Ryanair’s promises of child-free flights was true or just another marketing ploy and I would suspect many other airlines around the world are watching how the Malaysian ban will work out.
Images: David Barrie and ffc57