Qatar Airways appears to be seriously betting on its Airbus A350 and Boeing 787 Dreamliner fleets for long-haul operations. The air carrier has highlighted the modernity and sustainability of the aircraft type versus other aircraft types, namely the Airbus A380, when announcing the resumption of flights to three destinations in South Africa on October 1, 2020.
The operator of nine different types of aircraft (and therefore the most versatile fleet among the ME3 carriers), Qatar Airways appears to have a made-up mind of what aircraft it wants to associate itself with, at least on the long haul routes to the African continent.
In a press statement on October 1, 2020 Qatar Airways attributed its continuous operations at the heights of the coronavirus crisis and the future recovery of international flights to its “modern sustainable” fleet of Boeing 787 Dreamliner and Airbus A350XWB aircraft.
“The airline’s strategic investment in a variety of fuel-efficient twin-engine aircraft, including the largest fleet of Airbus A350 aircraft, has enabled it to continue flying, perfectly positioning the carrier to lead the sustainable recovery of international travel,” the statement read.
A variety of aircraft it has indeed. Besides the aforementioned two aircraft types and excluding the narrow body A320 family (three different types of them, to be precise), Qatar Airways also has Airbus A330s, Boeing 777s, Boeing 747s, and A380s suitable for long haul routes.
However, none of the aircraft appears to be high on the airline’s priority list at the moment.
The airline has been moving towards a simplified fleet for a while now. Besides changes to its narrow body aircraft, it was already planning to wave-goodbye to the aging A330. The situation is more complicated when it comes to the Boeing 777. Currently having 57 Triple Sevens for passenger service, the airline also had been betting high on the upcoming version, the 777X, which was supposed to take over the A380’s place.
Airbus A380 no longer “commercially or environmentally justifiable”
However, currently all ten Qatar Airways A380 aircraft are grounded and the airline appears to be in no rush to return them to service. Referring to the superjumbo fleet, the statement outlines “it is not commercially or environmentally justifiable to operate such a large aircraft in the current market.”
However, the opinion comes as little surprise, keeping in mind the falling A380 popularity with other airlines as well as Qatar Airways’ previous plans for the aircraft type. The airline already had the A380 retirement deadline set even before the crisis struck.
“For the A380s, on the 10th anniversary, we will retire them,” the airline’s chief executive Akbar al-Baker told the Aviation Analyst in February 2019. Since the average age of the superjumbos was around 5 years at that time, the previous deadline was meant to fall somewhere around 2024-2025.