As of yesterday, Qatar Airways’ cargo division is no longer operating the Airbus A330 freighter. Its remaining four A330-200Fs were taken out of service in light of the recent triple-Boeing 777F delivery, which took place at the start of the month.
The outgoing Airbus freighters
STAT Trade Times, who interviewed Qatar Airways Chief Officer Cargo, Guillaume Halleux, confirmed the departure of the freighters. As part of the interview, Halleux said the following:
“We had five A330 freighters. We sold one of them in August last year. And the remaining were planned to exit. Therefore, as on January 31, they will be out of our fleet.”
The final four Airbus freighters were A330-200s registered as A7-AFG, AFH, AFI, and AFJ. These freighters are relatively young as they range between just five and six years of age.
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The delayed phase-out
Qatar Airways had actually planned to remove its A330 freighters earlier than January 2021. In fact, November 2020 was the original phase-out time. However, this had been pushed back due to delays in Boeing’s delivery of new 777 freighters.
The airline has been phasing out these jets, with three leaving in 2019, leaving the company with five in 2020. The first of these five was to be removed in April 2020. However, with the onset of the global health crisis, this was moved back to July-August.
Interestingly, the sale of the one A330 last summer was to Hungarian budget airline Wizz Air. According to The Load Star, the Hungarian government had apparently been facing criticism for being unable to procure air freight capacity during the PPE peak. Its response was to purchase an A330-200F from Qatar Airways. Wizz Air is the official operator of the jet, but the aircraft’s main work is on behalf of the Hungarian government.
Going for Boeing
Citing fleet optimization as the main reason for the shift, the airline’s cargo executive added more to the interview, saying,
“We made no secret from the beginning that the order of five B777 freighters placed at the Paris Airshow in 2019 was to replace and phase out A330 freighters. This is part of streamlining our freighter fleet and going in for a homogenous fleet for very obvious reasons of optimisation and synergy,” -Guillaume Halleux, Qatar Airways Chief Officer Cargo via STAT Trade Times
Two more new B777 freighters are set to join the Qatar Airways cargo fleet in the next three months.
Comparing the outgoing aircraft with their replacements, the A330-200F offers a capacity of 23 pallets on the main deck with an additional eight below, plus two LD3 containers. Meanwhile, the 777F can accommodate 27 pallets on the main deck and another 10 below deck (or six pallets and 14 LD3 containers).
What do you think of Qatar Airways’ move to an all-Boeing fleet of freighters? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.