Next month the Qatar Airways Airbus A380 will return to the skies. However, it seems as though the Qatari flag carrier is bringing the aircraft back reluctantly and would still like to see it gone sooner rather than later.
Since the A380 fleet was grounded, Group CEO Akbar Al Baker has been particularly pessimistic about the type’s future. This is why it was such a surprise when Qatar Airways revealed that it would be bringing back the jet. However, Al Baker has now indicated that it was a decision he’d rather not have taken and that we shouldn’t expect the jets to stick around longer than necessary.
So, what’s the latest?
Today Qatar Airways confirmed the Airbus A380’s return but made it clear that the airline was reluctant to bring the jet back to service. Qatar Airways indicated that its hand had been forced by its ongoing Airbus A350 groundings, leading to a shortage in capacity.
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Group CEO Akbar Al Baker commented,
“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.
“It does not signify a permanent reintroduction of our A380 fleet, which were grounded in favour of more fuel-efficient, twin-engine aircraft at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Why is this happening?
As mentioned, the Airbus A380 is being brought back temporarily to fill in for the airline’s grounded Airbus A350 fleet. 19 aircraft remain grounded on the explicit instruction of the Qatari Civil Aviation Authority as a result of surface degradation beneath the aircraft’s paint scheme being found.
The airline expects just half of its fleet to return to service, flying to London Heathrow Airport (LHR) and Paris Charles De Gaulle (CDG) from December 15th. The airline has also brought a number of its Airbus A330s back into service to help with the capacity shortfall.
Qatar Airways expects strong winter demand to match pre-COVID levels at their peak. It’s unclear how long it will take the Airbus A350 situation to be solved. EASA, as the issuer of the type’s operating certificate, revealed in early August that it had no intention of grounding the type.
However, Al Baker did reveal that the root cause of the surface degradation remains unknown by both Qatar Airways and Airbus, meaning that the issue remains unresolved. He called on the plan maker to prioritize its investigation into the cause of these issues.
How long do you think that the Qatar Airways Airbus A380s will stick around? Let us know what you think and why in the comments.