Qatar Airways To Retire Airbus A320 and A330 Fleets

Middle East carrier, Qatar Airways, has announced the next models of aircraft due for retirement. Over the next five years they plan to phase out of the A330 and A320 models from their fleet in favor of newer, more efficient aircraft such as the B787 and the A350.

Qatar A330
No more A330s for Qatar Airways. Photo: Wikimedia

Qatar Airways are continuing their overhaul of their operating fleet of passenger jets. Having already retired the A340 and announced the retirement date of the A380, the carrier is now planning to phase out all A330s in the next three years.

Within five years, it will also retire its remaining A319s and A320s, in favor of the A321neo and A321LR. By 2024, Qatar will fly only four types of aircraft, in contrast to the eight they currently operate.

Retirement for the A330

Following on from the retirement of their A340 recently, Qatar are set to say goodbye to the A330 too. Right now, they have seven A330-200s and 13 A330-300s in their fleet. These will be replaced by incoming A350-1000s and 787 Dreamliners.

Qatar A330
Qatar will retire the A330 within three years. Photo: Wikimedia

According to One Mile At A Time, this will take place in the next three years. This represents a simplification of their fleet, which currently has eight different types of passenger jets in service.

Phasing out some of the older models to leave them with fewer variants will reduce costs associated with maintenance and servicing of so many different types.

No more A320s either

Within the next five years, Qatar also plan to phase out all their A320s in favor of A321s. According to Wikipedia, the airline has 50 A321neo and A321LRs on order from Airbus, with the first due to start delivering this year.

qatar a320
The smaller A320 and A319 will be gone by 2024. Photo: Wikimedia

According to an interview with Gulf Times, the CEO of Qatar Airways, Akbar al-Baker, said:

“From 2024, our fleet will consist of Boeing 777s and 787s and Airbus A350s and A321s. At that time, there will not be any more Airbus A320s and A319s in our fleet,”

Qatar only fly two A319s but have 34 A320-200s in their fleet.

Regular fleet renewal

As one of the youngest fleets in the skies (and ambitions to keep it that way), rapid plane refreshes at Qatar is nothing new. They recently retired the very last of their A340-600s, and have plans to retire their A380s beginning in 2024.

To balance this out, the carrier has a number of new aircraft lined up to enter the fleet. They recently took delivery of a shiny new A350-900, which marked the 250th plane to enter the fleet. Reportedly, Qatar are also in the market to be the first airline to fly the forthcoming 777X.

So, what will happen to the A320s and A330s as they leave the Qatar fleet? There are a few options open to them. They could sell them on to another airline (plenty would be interested, particularly in the A330s) or they could shift them over to their aircraft leasing business which, by all accounts, is a growth area for the carrier.

Air Italy a330
Will Air Italy end up with the A330s? Photo: Wikimedia

However, we think at least some of these planes, the A330s in particular, could end up with Air Italy. The Milan based carrier, part Qatar owned, is eyeing big North American expansion, and has already said that they prefer the A330 over the Boeing 787 for fleet expansion. As such, it’s highly likely at least some of the A330s will be loaned or sold to Air Italy to help them conquer the transatlantic market.

What do you think will happen to Qatar’s old aircraft? Let us know in the comments!

1 comment
  1. Qatar may not own the subject aircraft. Much of the Qatar fleet is leased and many German KG funds; Korean and other investors who view aircraft as a stable commodity. That myth will soon fade when they have these aircraft returned. When aircraft are transitioned to another airline there are can be substantial reconfiguration costs. This will particularly be in the case with Qatar aircraft that have very luxurious and bespoke interiors. When aircraft move to a lesser carrier that carrier usually wants a more basic configuration with less luxury and more seats. Investors will feel the pain of the reconfiguration costs. The A380s will be almost impossible to move and investors will most likely fail to recover their equity as useful life and amortisation will have been well beyond the initial lease. Investors have been blinded by running yields but the likelihood of recovering their equity is fast evaporating.

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