French operator Air Austral and Gulf carrier Qatar Airways are among several airlines revealed this week as previously unidentified Boeing customers. Both have announced earlier orders for two 777-200LRs, each deal speculatively valued at $501 million.
Based on the South Indian Ocean island of Reunion, Air Austral flies two 777-300ERs, three Model 200ERs and two single-aisle 737s. “The [9,395-nm-range] 777-200LR is the only widebody airplane that can fly nonstop to Paris with a full payload from our short runway on the island of Mayotte,” said Air Austral chairman Gerard Etheve. In addition to the two new 777s (to be delivered in mid-2011 and 2012), Air Austral is to receive two 737-800s at the end of 2010 and a third leased 777-300ER early next year.
Doha-based Qatar Airways already flies 19 Model 777s: six -200LRs (serving Houston, Melbourne and Säo Paulo/Buenos Aires), 11 Series 300ERs and two 777F cargo variants (both delivered in the past two months). Apart from the two announced here on Wednesday, the airline has ordered a further eight 777s and holds options on three more.
“The 777 has become the cornerstone of our fleet,” said chief executive Akbar Al Baker. “The 777F is performing as promised and as we expected, meeting operating-economics targets, and on its way to helping us ‘grow’ our [air cargo] business.”
Qatar Airways also has negotiated an earlier delivery, beginning in the fourth quarter of next year, of its Boeing 787s, which it needs to support its goal of serving 120 destinations by 2013.