Qatar Airways Operates Airbus A380 Pilot Training Flights

Qatar Airways has dusted off its Airbus A380 ahead of its return to service next month. The airline is reluctantly bringing back half of its fleet to deal with a capacity shortage prompted by the groundings of the Airbus A350.

Qatar Airways, Airbus A380, Fleet Impairment
Qatar Airways Airbus A380 return was unexpected. Photo: Airbus

News that Qatar Airways was bringing back the Airbus A380 made many aviation fans incredibly happy. Though it seems as though the airline itself would rather not bring the type back, with Qatar Airways Group CEO Akbar Al Baker going as far as to call the decision to bring the giant back a “reluctant” one.

Crew training on the Airbus A380

Today, Qatar Airways took its first Airbus A380 to return to the skies back to Doha International Airport. The airline is due to bring the giant of the skies back on December 15th, for three daily rotations to Europe. This morning it was the turn of A7-APG to be used for pilot training.

According to data from RadarBox.com, A7-APG took to the skies above Doha’s Hamad International Airport at 10:17 this morning. As opposed to a long test flight, the jet was simply being repositioned to an adjacent airport. This meant it flew for just 36 minutes, landing back at Doha International Airport at 10:54 for a journey that was just five kilometers (3.11 miles) long.

Qatar Airways, Airbus A380, Back In Service
The jet was positioned from Doha Airport to Doha Airport. Photo: RadarBox.com

However, the aircraft didn’t stay on the ground in Doha. The aircraft has taken to the skies four more times since it landed (at the time of writing), suggesting that the jet is being used for pilot training ahead of the type’s return to service. Like British Airways with its A380s, it seems that Qatar is conducting its training operations at a less busy airport.

Doha actually has two adjacent airports. Like Berlin Brandenburg before it opened, Doha International Airport is being used for aircraft storage now that Qatar Airways and other airlines don’t use it for passengers (though it could be reactivated to cope with increased demand for the 2022 World Cup).

Unlike Berlin Brandenburg and Berlin Schönefeld Airport, the two facilities aren’t actually connected, with a major highway dividing them. This means that planes have no choice but to fly between the two.

Returning in a month

It’s just a month to go until the Qatar Airways Airbus A380 returns to the skies with passengers. The airline will begin flying the double-decker giant of the skies to both London Heathrow Airport, and Paris Charles De Gaulle Airport from December 15th. London will get two Airbus A380s a day, while Paris will get just one.

Qatar Airways, Airbus A380, Back In Service
The A380 is coming back to fill in for the A350 after cracks were found below the paint on 19 aircraft. Photo: Clément Alloing

With the return of the Qatar airways airbus A380 to London Heathrow, London’s main airport will once again claim the title of the most diverse airbus A380 airport. It will welcome the double-decker join from British Airways, Singapore Airlines, Emirates, and Qatar Airways equating to a total of four airlines operating the type into the airport.

As mentioned, Qatar Airways Group CEO, Akbar Al Baker, isn’t happy about the type’s return, commenting,

“The recent grounding of 19 Qatar Airways A350 fleet has left us with no alternative but to temporarily bring some of our A380 fleet back on key winter routes… This difficult decision reflects the gravity of the A350 issue and is intended to be a short-term measure to assist us in balancing our commercial needs.”

Are you excited to see Qatar Airways reluctantly bring another Airbus A380 out of storage? Let us know what you think and why in the comments!

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