Breaking: Qatar Airways CEO Says Half Its A380 Fleet Will Be Retired

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Qatar Airways CEO, Akbar Al Baker, has confirmed half his A380s won’t fly for the airline again. Speaking at a CAPA Live event today, Mr Al Baker said the A380 was one of the worst planes in the sky when it came to emissions and overall efficiency. The airline isn’t operating any of its A380s at the moment. Expanding on the subject, Mr Al Baker went on to say in the future, only half of Qatar’s A380s will fly again.

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Qatar Airways won’t be bringing back half of its A380 fleet. Photo: Qatar Airways

“And when we operate them (the A380s again), we will only operate half the numbers we have,” he said.

When it comes to the A380, Akbar Al Baker has the seven-year itch

Qatar Airways has ten A380s in its fleet. The first arrived at the airline in 2014 and the most recent in 2018. Seven years ago, Akbar Al Baker was full of praise for the mega jumbo.

“By introducing the A380 to our ever-expanding fleet, it will strengthen Doha’s position as a key regional and global aviation hub.

“The arrival of the A380 opens a new chapter in the unparalleled, signature service we provide to travelers on board with Qatar Airways.”

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Akbar Al Baker (left) in happier days, picking up his first A380. Photo: Airbus

In 2021, Akbar Al Baker has fallen out of love with the plane. Speaking with Peter Harbinson at CAPA Live on Wednesday, the airline CEO was decidedly lukewarm about the plane. All ten of the Qatar A380s are grounded and Akbar Al Baker says they will stay that way for the foreseeable future. He went on to confirm that when the A380 does resume flying for Qatar Airways, half of the fleet will stay on the ground permanently.

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“If you are interested in purchasing one for yourself, I will sell it to you,” he joked

There’s been a certain amount of speculation about the future of Qatar Airways A380 fleet. It’s speculation familiar to most operators of the A380. Most of those, like Qatar Airways, have temporarily grounded them.

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Qatar Airways has ten Airbus A380s, all presently parked. Photo: Airbus

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Qatar Airways was keeping its options open when it came to the A380

As recently as December, the airline was keeping its options open. Mark Drusch, a senior Vice President at Qatar Airways, told Simple Flying that while there was no rush to return the A380s to service, ultimately they would probably all get flying again.

But Mr Drusch did flag Qatar’s concerns about the A380s environmental impact and general efficiency. That’s a topic Akbar Al Baker returned to today. The airline CEO sang the praises of the A350, particularly the A350-1000. Peter Harbinson challenged Mr Al Baker on his previous claims the A380-800 has twice the emissions of an A350-1000 on long-haul routes.

Akbar Al Baker went into bat for the A350-1000, especially in comparison to the older A380s.

“The A380 is one of the worst aircraft when it comes to emissions that is flying today.” According to Mr Al Baker, it is for this reason half the A380s won’t return to service. That’s unlikely to be the whole story about why half of Qatar Airways’ A380s won’t fly for the airline again. But right now, that’s the spin the airline is putting on the decision.

Does Mr Al Baker’s announcement surprise you? Is it just another nail in the coffin for the A380? Post a comment and let us know.

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