(Repeats to add slug, picture available, no change to text)
DUBAI, April 10 (Reuters) - Qatar Airways signed a preliminary agreement on Tuesday to buy 5 Boeing 777 Freighters worth $1.7 billion, the airline said.
The letter of intent was signed at a ceremony attended by Qatar’s Minister of Finance Ali Sharif al-Emadi, who is also the airline’s chairman, Qatar Airways Chief Executive Akbar al-Baker, and Boeing Commercial Airplanes President Kevin McAllister, the airline said in a statement.
The order will be posted on Boeing’s orders and deliveries website once the purchase is finalised, the statement said.
The airline did not say when it expected to complete the deal.
“This transaction will be a reinforcement of our confidence in Boeing to continue to deliver an outstanding product that meets our exacting standards,” Baker said. “We expect no less than perfection, and we are confident that Boeing will continue to deliver that.”
Qatar Airways, one of the Middle East’s largest airlines, operates a fleet of 23 cargo planes and 191 passengers jets, according to its website.
The order comes 10 months into a regional crisis that Qatar Airways has said made it no longer profitable after it was forced to cut routes and operate longer flight paths.
Qatar Airways said that the 777 Freighters’ long range and payload capabilities would help it reduce costs by requiring less stops and shortening delivery times.
The 777 Freighter can fly 4,900 nautical miles (9,070 kilometres) with a payload of 112 U.S. tons (102 metric tonnes), the statement said. (Reporting by Alexander Cornwell; Editing by Adrian Croft)