Qatar Airways Mulls Operating A Portion Of Its A380 Fleet From 2021

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This week, Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker shared that the airline’s Airbus A380s will remain in storage for at least a year. The Doha-based carrier would only look into hitting the skies with the widebody aircraft from the middle of 2021.

Qatar Airways Airbus A380
Qatar Airways’ chief executive has given his thoughts on the future of the A380. Photo: Airbus

Change of scene

The global health crisis has rocked the aviation industry across the globe. Passenger numbers are down, and it could take approximately three years before the market sees activity that matches 2019 levels. Therefore, most airlines are having to reshuffle their fleets to adapt to the changing environment.

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One of the most significant casualties of the crisis, when it comes to aircraft, has been the A380. The size and lack of efficiency of the superjumbo have made it practically redundant at the present time.

Qatar Airways has 10 of these jets within its fleet. The first one of these, registration A7-APA arrived in September 2014, while the latest arrival was registration in A7-APJ in April 2018.

Altogether, the airline only has a handful of A380s compared to several of its counterparts. For instance, Emirates holds 115 units of the type within its fleet.

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A380 Qatar
There isn’t much of a requirement for the A380 in the present conditions. Photo: Getty Images

Planning ahead

During a Fireside Chat hosted by Aviation Week on Tuesday, Al Baker said that companies with sizeable amounts of A380s should be concerned. Meanwhile, his units will remain on the ground for at least another year. Moreover, the executive has a strategy on how to structure his fleet over the next few years. The plan includes the addition of the upcoming Boeing 777X.

“Frankly speaking, we will not operate our A380s. Fortunately, I only have 10. People who have bought over 100 have to be very worried about it; we will only consider operating some of them, not all of them past mid-year next year. So, we think that for the next year to year and a half, they will be in long-term storage.” Al Baker said during the talk with Aviation Week.

“We will concentrate our operations around the Boeing 787, the Airbus A350, and from 2022 onwards on the 777X. These will be our three widebodies, and we will start getting deliveries from 2022 of our Airbus A321neos, which will be the backbone of our narrowbody fleet.”

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A380 cabin Qatar Airways
There is plenty of space onboard the A380. Photo: Qatar Airways

Ready for the challenge

The businessman added that his team is not preparing to cancel any of its aircraft orders, choosing instead to push back deliveries, like other airlines around the world. He said that a lot of carriers have outright canceled their orders because they realized that they would not be able to sustain any more inductions of new planes in their fleet due to what happened to their balance sheets.

Altogether, not many airlines would be expecting to operate the Airbus A380 on a large scale for a while. The type was already on its way out of several carriers’ holdings before the pandemic. Therefore, the current situation only catalyzed its grounding. With several other robust aircraft models in Qatar Airways’ fleet, the operator undoubtedly has enough support.

What are your thoughts about Qatar Airways’ plans for its Airbus A380 aircraft? How do you feel about airlines across the globe grounding the jet? Let us know what you think in the comment section.

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