Qatar Airways Cargo signaled its intent to continue expanding an already sizable freighter fleet with a commitment to order five more 777 freighters from Boeing. Separate from the commitment, announced today at the Paris Airshow, Qatar Airways outlined three new freighter routes that will launch in the coming months.
This year, Qatar Airways will boost trans-Pacific connections within its network by launching three new routes that utilize the 777F. New routes will include: Hanoi (HAN) to Dallas (DFW), Chicago (ORD) to Singapore (SIN), and Singapore (SIN) to Mexico City (MEX) via Los Angeles (LAX). Given the absence of additional connections to destinations in China, or Hong Kong (HKG), these routes suggest a hedge against faltering demand between China and the United States as a result of the ongoing trade war between the two countries.
Despite a turbulent year for its passenger business in 2018, Qatar Airways remains committed to growing its cargo business, which continues to outperform the market. On a year-over-year basis during fiscal year 2017/2018, the company reported a 34.4% increase in cargo revenue and a 17.8% year-over-year boost in tonnage, to 1.36 million tonnes. Overall, the carrier reported a net loss of US$ 69 million, which the carrier attributed to Qatar’s blockade by Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. The blockade, according to the carrier, led to a drop in the number of passenger seats connecting involved countries, forcing the carrier to cease operating eighteen routes.
Blockade aside, Qatar Airways is bullish on the prospects of continued growth for its cargo division and will press forward with plans to continue augmenting its freighter fleet. As of today, the carrier operates twenty-three aircraft, including sixteen 777Fs, two 747-8Fs and five A330-200Fs. Prior to today’s commitment, Qatar’s 777F order backlog stood at five 777Fs. See this recent report from our sister publication, Cargo Facts for a more in-depth analysis of Qatar Airways’ freighter fleet plans.