Qatar Airways has grounded its A380 fleet according to information available through its website. The airline, like many others, has sacrificed the more expensive A380 for smaller, more economic aircraft choices. The fleet grounding will last on 31st May and Qatar hopes that the aircraft will fly again post-coronavirus.
Grounding the A380
In light of developments surrounding COVID-19, Qatar Airways has decided to scale back its operation. That doesn’t only include cutting flights but also removing less economical aircraft. As a result of schedule and network alterations, it appears that Qatar has decided to ground its A380 fleet until the end of May. On its current schedule, there are no flights that will use the A380 from now until 1st June 2020. After that point, the airline hopes to make a return to Australia with the giant jet.
Whilst Qatar’s decision would be particularly poignant in another time, the grounding of its A380s does not come as a surprise. Many airlines around the world are grounding parts of their fleet. For some airlines, included in those inoperative aircraft is the A380.
Why ground the A380?
There’s a good reason for airlines like Qatar to ground their A380s at the moment. They’re large aircraft and expensive to maintain. In the current economic climate, this aircraft is either not feasible or simply not the first choice. In an internal memo, shared by Paxex.aero Qatar Airways Mr. Akbar Al Baker said that the airline must:
“…further study the costs we incur in our day-to-day business and to reduce or postpone those that are not critical to the airline.”
That’s exactly what Qatar Airways is doing right now. With limited schedules and most airlines no longer operating international long-haul routes, smaller aircraft are a better choice. For Qatar as well.
For this reason, Qatar Airways has chosen to keep its A350s in operation. Whilst the A380 is grounded, some of the routes which it operates will continue. An A350-900 will run between Perth and Doha after 1st April. The Melbourne to Doha route will also operate an A350 after 31st March.
It would seem that Qatar is trying to keep profitable routes open for as long as possible but making the operation more economical. Interestingly, the airline hopes that the A380 will fly again in a few months’ time. However, if COVID-19 is still a threat at that time, reinstating the A380 into operations will not be the most financially-sensible solution.
What will Qatar do with its A380 fleet?
With the grounding of the fleet, the next decision for Qatar Airways to make is just where to put these aircraft. At the moment, Qatar has not shared where this temporary resting place might be.
As the number of aircraft needing temporary homes increases, airlines are working with airports to create space for grounded fleets. Some aircraft have been parked on runways for a lack of appropriate space. Could this be an option for Qatar Airways?
One thing is for certain. Qatar Airways has the advantage of a desert climate. Wherever it chooses to park its aircraft, it will be exposing the planes to minimal damage. The arid conditions in the desert provide excellent protection from corrosion when aircraft are not in operation. This could save Qatar some maintenance costs in the future when it is able to fly its fleet again.
Where do you think Qatar’s A380s will go? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.