Qatar Airway: Priority for Low Emission Aircraft.
By: Maycol Vargas Source: Simple Flying
Amsterdam, June 2, 2021 — Qatar Airways Company Q.C.S.C. connects over 150 international destinations and is present in America, Africa, Asia, Europe and Oceania and has a fleet of over 200 aircraft. Qatar’s state-owned airline, based at the Qatar Airways Tower in Doha, says that low-emission aircraft should be the priority.
The giant mid-eastern airline is committed to continuing its investments in new technologies for aircraft and thus achieving its goal of becoming an environmentally neutral airline. In an exclusive interview for Simple Flying, Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker called on aircraft manufacturers, engine manufacturers and fuel suppliers to put more money into research and development, and to help airlines achieve zero-emission growth.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has affected the world economy as a whole, the work focusing on sustainability in the aviation industry could have been easily harmed. In the struggle for survival, it would be somewhat understandable if environmental concerns were placed at the back of the list of priorities. However, for many airlines, this slowdown in operations had the opposite effect.
Promises of investment in decarbonization technologies and a zero-emission schedule have been constant over the last twelve months. Qatar Airways is continually looking for new options to renew its fleet to comply with its climate policy.
Akbar Al Baker, CEO of Qatar Airways, comments that the company is investing heavily in new aircrafts. The company, which has more than 200 new planes on order, specifically highlights its interest in the Boeing 777x, which is expected to be 18% to 20% more fuel-efficient compared to the company’s current 777s.
In total, 60 units of the 777x model were ordered, and even without an official estimation of when the new planes will enter service, the CEO of Qatar Airway expects to receive the first unit as early as 2022.
In an exclusive interview with Joanna Bailey of Simple Flying, the Qatar CEO said:
I would also ask the OEMs – the aircraft manufacturers, engine manufacturers, fuel suppliers – to invest in R&D to come up with new technology that is available but is expensive. This is why the OEMs are avoiding investing money, but they need to invest the windfall profits they make when they sell airplanes, in order to protect our environment and help airlines like Qatar Airways, to reduce emissions and to have growth with zero-emission increase when we are expanding.”
Qatar Airway is also ready to order successors to the A350 and 787 as they become available.
Qatar Airway’s CEO says that he doesn’t see electric flying as a solution for a more sustainable future in aviation. Carrying five to twenty passengers, which is the capacity that current technology supports, is simply not enough volume.
The CEO is also reluctant about the use and safety of hydrogen-powered planes, mentioning the volatility of the gas. He believes that it will be possible to develop an alternative fuel with zero emissions and it will keep the passengers safe.
Akbar Al Baker also states that the priority should be to increase the accessibility of sustainable aviation fuels (SAFs). Today’s biofuels cost between two and five times more than conventional jet fuel, making them unfeasibly expensive for airlines to use without additional fees for customers, for example through programs for corporate customers or government subsidies.
The Qatar’s CEO also comments that countries that are still developing coal-fired facilities and ‘burning fossil fuels to increase their economic activity’ should be ashamed of themselves and instead look to their work for inspiration.
I think it is really criminal. They should take the example of Qatar Airways and keep on investing in technology in order for us to be more efficient.”
Akbar Al Baker says that he intends to make Qatar Airways a climate-neutral airline, even without setting a specific date. Until significant advances in technology are made, one of the most important tools along with fleet renewal will be the company’s carbon offset program, launched in November 2020.
We will do everything possible to invest in new technology, which will keep on reducing our emission footprint. At the same time, Qatar Airways is investing in offsets in order to keep on continuously reducing or compensating our emissions, and we will keep on investing for the foreseeable future until such a time that we see that there is a breakthrough in technology.”
Maycol M. Vargas is an Aeronautical Engineer with a doctorate degree in Space Engineering and Technology and eyesonbrasil correspondent.