Qatar Airways Ltd. said it’s interested in being the first customer for the 787-10, a larger version of the Dreamliner being considered by Boeing Co.
“Why not, when you have an aircraft that has the best seat-mile costs,” Qatar Chief Executive Officer Akbar Al Baker said in an interview last night in Seattle, where he was picking up the Middle Eastern carrier’s first 787-8 jet.
The Chicago-based planemaker is in talks with Qatar and other carriers amid interest in a stretched version of the jet built of composite plastics rather than traditional aluminum, Boeing Commercial Airplanes President Ray Conner said. Board approval to begin selling the plane may be sought “in the near future,” he said in an interview, declining to be more specific.
Qatar is the first Middle Eastern carrier to fly the 787, which entered service last year with All Nippon Airways Co. The jet was more than three years late as Chicago-based Boeing struggled with the new composite materials and new manufacturing processes.
Doha-based Qatar Air expects to get a total of 30 787s by 2017, including another four this year. It also has the flexibility to convert some orders into larger versions, it said.
“Boeing has given us a program of deliveries and they’re sticking to that,” Al Baker said.
Separately, the planemaker is also running about three weeks ahead of schedule in engineering the 787-9, Pat Shanahan, vice president for airplane programs, told reporters at the Qatar Air delivery event. That plane is scheduled to fly next year and to enter service in 2014.