(Rewrites with confirmation from sources)
Sept 29 Boeing Co is close to clinching a
large sale of widebody jetliners to Qatar Airways, a deal that
moved closer with the recent U.S. approval of Boeing fighter jet
sales to the Gulf nation, according to two people familiar with
Qatar Airways is in the process of firming up the order,
which it was due to have placed at July's Farnborough airshow,
but which was delayed by the Qatari government in an effort to
speed up U.S. approval for the fighter contract, one of the
Bloomberg reported that the deal was for at least 30 Boeing
777 and 787 jets, valued at about $6.7 billion at list prices.
Boeing declined to comment and Qatar Airways was not
immediately available to comment.
If the deal is finalized, it would give the Chicago-based
planemaker a substantial sales boost amid a slump in widebody
orders this year.
It follows news on Wednesday that the United States had
begun notifying lawmakers informally that it had approved the
sales of 36 Boeing F-15 fighter jets to Qatar, valued at around
The United States also approved the sale of fighters to
Kuwait. The sales to both states had been pending for more than
two years amid concerns raised by Israel, Washington's closest
Middle East ally, that they could be used against it, and
criticism of Qatar for alleged ties to armed Islamist groups.
Qatar Airways Chief Executive Officer Akbar Al Baker said in
August that the airline planned to make a major aircraft order
to enable its network expansion plans.
In July the airline also said it was in advanced talks to
purchase up to 30 of Boeing's 737 narrowbody planes.
Earlier in the year, Qatar Airways refused to accept three
Airbus A320neo narrowbody jets, because of engine
cooling issues. The airline has canceled its first A320neo
delivery and said it must source alternate planes to meet
Engine maker Pratt & Whitney said in March it
expected the cooling problem and other software issues to be
fixed this year.
Airbus is struggling to keep up with deliveries to Qatar
Airways of the long-haul Airbus A350 planes. Those delays,
combined with the A320neo problems, has put Qatar Airways at
risk of posting a loss in the fiscal year that ends in March, Al
Baker said in August.
"Our relationship is very strained," Al Baker said in
August. "What's happening at Airbus with the deliveries is
seriously affecting our growth."
(Reporting by Ankit Ajmera in Bengaluru; Additional reporting
by Alwyn Scott and Tim Hepher; Editing by Anil D'Silva and Bill