As Airbus ended the A380 recently, Qatar Airways introduced its plans to retire the A380 in favor of the 777x. Since the 777X is due to enter service soon, this means the days of the A380 at Qatar Airways were even further reduced. Now, we know that, starting in 2024, the A380 won’t be flying in Qatar Airways livery.
The A380 is a massive aircraft. Qatar Airways has 10 of these giants flying in their livery. The first one came in 2014 and the last one was delivered in 2018.
CEO Al Baker has indicated that the planes will be retired once they hit their 10-year mark:
“For the A380s, on the tenth anniversary, we will retire them. Once we have paid our financial obligations, they will go. We don’t see any secondary market opportunity”
Akbar Al Baker, CEO of Qatar Airways
Interestingly enough, Hi Fly does see some opportunity in running second-hand A380s on wet lease operations. However, it seems like Hi Fly sees a need for them now and not when Qatar Airways intends to retire their A380s.
However, given that Singapore Airlines has A380s they will get rid of and Emirate’s robust fleet strategy will definitely see some A380s on the secondhand market, Al Baker is probably correct in his assertion that there isn’t a secondhand market for these jets.
Qatar Airways outfits their A380s with 517 passengers. 8 are seated in First Class, 48 in Business Class, and 461 passengers in economy class, split between the upper and lower deck.
First Class, like business class, keeps evolving and Qatar’s First Class product is a fantastic product, but largely overshadowed by their new business class product.
While you’ll find all the perks of a typical first class, such as partitions that can be raised, a fully-flat bed, companion dining, and a much better flight attendant ratio than either economy or business class.
Business class, on the other hand, is still a solid product that would make for a great flight.
This is where it makes sense for Qatar Airways to discontinue their A380. An aircraft this large means either having a ridiculously large number of economy class passengers or business class passengers. There is simply not enough demand to warrant more than 50-60 premium passengers on a flight.
Not to mention, Qatar Airways has their excellent Qsuite product which overshadows the open suite first class product on-board their A380s. If Qatar Airways were to install the Qsuites on the A380, their first class product would have to be significantly improved and it is hard to imagine Qatar looking to spend a ton of square footage on an apartment-style first class when their business class is good enough for most people.
In economy, one can find a 3-4-3 layout on this widebody aircraft, similar to most 777s without any really special features one wouldn’t find on any other airline.
Ultimately, the A380 is a massive beast that Qatar doesn’t see the need for anymore. With their time in the sky coming up short, now is the time to try and fly Qatar’s A380 before they are retired for good.