Boeing President for Middle East and North Africa, Jeff Johnson, said initial deliveries of the B787 in the Middle East will commence with Qatar Airways in 2Q2012 (Arabian Business, 18-Aug-2011). Deliveries will follow to Royal Jordanian and then Etihad Airways.
Boeing: Qatar Airways to take delivery of B787 from 2Q2011
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Qatar Airways grows in Saudi Arabia as it catches up to flydubai and appears to end Al Maha ambition
Often overlooked in the story of Gulf aviation superconnectors is Saudi Arabia. A large and underserved domestic and international market in its own right, Saudi also possesses hub capability to challenge its better known rivals. 13 Saudi cities have international service but the flag carrier Saudia only serves five. Foreign airlines have moved in, taking advantage of Saudia's absence and the often favourable geography.
Qatar Airways intends to launch service to two new Saudi points in 2017, bringing its total number of services to 10 as it seeks to narrow the gap with the 13 destinations of the leader, flydubai.
In 2016 Qatar Airways overtook flydubai and Emirates in capacity size, making it the largest foreign airline in Saudi. Qatar's organic growth comes as it is increasingly likely that its proposed Saudi start-up, Al Maha Airways, will not launch. Saudia accounts for only 31% of Saudi's international market. This is likely to grow as Saudia continues its quiet revitalisation, aided by improved hubs at Jeddah and Riyadh. There is also a dual brand strategy with the LCC start-up flyadeal.
Gulf airlines in 2017: Etihad cuts capacity 4% as Emirates and Qatar begin slowest growth in 5 years
For the first time in over a decade, a Gulf superconnector airline will reduce its annual capacity. Etihad is forecast to cut ASKs by 4% in 2017. Emirates and Qatar Airways will have their slowest growth expansion in a decade, but in terms of net capacity addition 2017's production increase is the slowest in about five years.
Etihad is contracting in all regions except Western Europe and Australia in 2017. The largest cuts will be in South America, North America and Southeast Asia, although this does not necessarily correlate to regional profitability. Despite the reduction Etihad's frequencies will be up 1% in 2017, mostly in Western Europe and South Asia.
Etihad has announced plans to reduce staff members, which it says will be largely through attrition. As it contracts instead of growing, its aircraft commitments – and in particular 787s – may be cancelled or deferred. Etihad's partnership with Lufthansa will result in its airberlin burden being reduced. Etihad may look to sell down European investment airlines, according to unconfirmed press reports.
Yet as Etihad recalibrates under a changed Abu Dhabi government, Qatar Airways continues to grow.