Anyone who hangs out on Rodeo Drive or Sloane Square knows that Arab Gulf citizens love to shop in Western luxury retail chains. Apparently, Qataris also like to shop at Boeing. Friday’s Boeing jetliner orders give the company clear dominance in this dollar-rich aerospace market. Qatar Airways placed firm orders for 30 787-9s and ten 777-300ERs. In addition, Qatar signed a Letter of Intent for up to 60 737MAX 8s.
These jetliner purchases are good news for Boeing. But in addition to being an endorsement of Boeing’s product line, the orders are also a criticism of Airbus’s production and service entry problems, particularly for the A350XWB twin aisle and A320neo single aisle jets. The 787 and 777 orders imply deferrals and perhaps cancellations for Qatar’s A350 order; if the airline executes on its 737MAX order that would imply deferrals and perhaps cancellations for its A320neo order.
But whatever the motivation for these orders, they cap an extraordinary shopping spree. Over the past five years, Qatar has signed for a remarkable array of Boeing defense products, including systems that are typically found only in much larger powers. Just last month, Qatar’s request for 36 F-15s was approved (with options for 36 more). This puts Qatar in an exclusive group—just five other export countries have signed for this heavy twinjet fighter over the last 40 years.
Let’s tally the shopping list up, looking solely at firm orders for the big stuff (ignoring helicopters, smaller transports, training aircraft, etc.). Then, let’s put an economic value on these purchases, looking purely at unit recurring prices for military equipment, and realized prices (after discounts) for commercial jetliners. For military aircraft, we’ll exclude the elaborate support and logistics packages, and weaponry, that typically accompany aircraft sales.
Over the past five years Qatar has placed orders for the following big-ticket aerospace products: