Boeing launches 777X freighter with Qatar Airways as first customer

Photo: © Boeing

Boeing has unveiled the long anticipated freighter version of the next generation Boeing 777, the 777-8F, on Monday, 31st January.

During a ceremony at the White House in attendance of Qatar‘s ruling emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, US Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo and Boeing CEO David Calhoun, Qatar Airways has signed a contract consisting of 34 firm orders and 16 options, thus becoming the variant’s launch customer. This deal replaces 20 of the carrier’s existing orders for 10 777-8X and 50 777-9X.

It is expected that the 777-8F will enter service around the year 2027, two years after new noise and pollution laws could effectively ban production of Boeing‘s existing freighter lineup. According to Boeing, the 777-8F has a range of nearly 8,200km (4410nmi) at full payload, which comes in at 112,300kg or 247,500lb.

Qatar Airways CEO H.E. Akbar Al-Baker commented that “Boeing has a long history of building market-leading freighter aircraft and Qatar Airways is honored to have the opportunity to be the launch customer for the 777-8 Freighter […]”, while Boeing Commercial Airplanes CEO Stan Deal said “We are delighted to launch Boeing’s next great cargo airplane – the 777-8 Freighter – with Qatar Airways, one of the world’s largest cargo carriers and our partner since the airline began operations nearly 30 years ago”.

Boeing’s competitor Airbus launched its own large twin-engine freighter with the Airbus A350F at the Dubai Airshow late last year and has so far secured eleven firm orders and several more commitments, with deliveries expected to commence around 2026.

Qatar Airways was reportedly also interested in the A350F, but it’s recent feud with the European manufacturer over damaged A350 and Airbus canceling the airline‘s order for 50 A321neo over a lawsuit filed by the airline didn’t help Airbus to secure a potential freighter order. Fleet commonality with the existing Qatar Airways Cargo fleet has likely also been a key factor in the decision to order the 777-8F, as the airline already operates 26 777F and two 747-8F.

In addition to becoming launch customer of the 777X’s freighter version, Qatar Airways also announced an order for up to 50 Boeing 737 Max aircraft.