What is the status of Qatar Airways Boeing 737 MAX fleet?

Qatar Airways' Boeing 737 MAX-8 fleet has been shrouded in mystery, yet what is the latest information?
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Several Boeing 737 MAX-8 aircraft have been spotted bearing parts of the Qatar Airways livery, including jets of the type that failed to reach customers due to sanctions. But what is the latest information about the Qatari carrier’s 737 MAX-8 fleet? 

Boeing’s Orders and Deliveries data, as of January 31, 2023, show two orders related to the 737 MAX: one in December 2016 for five aircraft of the type, and an order in July 2022 for 25 Boeing 737 MAX. While the manufacturer has not indicated the exact model of the MAX ordered by the Qatari carrier in either of those cases, the order announcement from July 2022 indicated that the manufacturer and the airline had finalized an order for 25 737 MAX-10. 

At the same time, an unidentified customer (s) ordered 25 737 MAX aircraft in January 2023. 

However, the aircraft spotted throughout Boeing’s facilities in or near Seattle, Washington, the United States (US), have been the 737 MAX-8. For example, Manufacturer Serial Number (MSN) 43342, MSN 43329, and MSN 43317 are scheduled to be delivered to the flag carrier of Qatar, according to planespotters.net data. All three were destined for Russia’s S7 Airlines. However, due to sanctions placed on Russia for its unlawful invasion of Ukraine and the fact that the country has still not ungrounded the aircraft type, the airline could not receive delivery of the trio of jets. 

Out of the three aircraft, one was spotted bearing the livery of S7 Airlines, with a Qatar Airways tail and winglets, while another had a fully white fuselage with the tail and winglets in the Qatari airline’s colors in February and January 2023, respectively. 

Later, the white fuselage 737 MAX-8, with the temporary registration of N1780B, flew from Seattle Boeing Field (BFI) to Portland International Airport (PDX) on February 4, 2023. The aircraft then departed PDX to Grant County International Airport (MWH), in Moses Lake, Washington, US, on February 17, 2023, per flightradar24.com data. 

Boeing’s data might not show that the three aircraft are destined for Qatar Airways because the trio was ordered by Air Lease Corporation (ALC), an aircraft lessor based in the US. According to ch-aviation.com, MSN 43329 and MSN 43342, which are to be delivered to the Qatari carrier, will be leased from ALC. 

“Qatar Airways recently had the opportunity to add a small number of B737-8 Max aircraft to its fleet in the coming months as it aims to add capacity to help drive future growth, especially in short-haul markets,” stated the airline’s spokesperson in an emailed statement to AeroTime. “As a rapidly growing airline, these efficient and modern aircraft are a welcome addition to the narrow body fleet to support our sustainable expansion plans as the world’s leading airline,” they concluded.

AeroTime approached Boeing for comment. 

UPDATE March 10, 2023, 11:25 AM (UTC +3): The article was updated with a statement from Qatar Airways.

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