Qatar Airways Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Akbar Al Baker indicated that aircraft delivery delays are negatively impacting the airline’s ability to introduce new routes.
Speaking during the ITB Berlin 2023 conference, Al Baker noted that while the airline has introduced a lot of new routes, frequency increases, and res services to certain destinations, aircraft delivery delays are forcing Qatar Airways to be conservative regarding the dates of these new/returning flights.
“The reason we are being very conservative in the dates that we have put here, this will be, of course, brought forward, [are] depending on aircraft deliveries to us, both from Airbus and from Boeing,” stated Al Baker.
Overall, Qatar Airways introduced seven new destinations, resumed services to 11 destinations, and increased frequencies to 35 cities across the globe.
Airbus and Boeing have experienced supply chain and labor shortage-related issues, resulting in aircraft delivery delays globally. While both manufacturers are attempting to ramp up production in 2023, the demand for new aircraft continues to rise. According to a fact sheet by the International Air Transport Association (IATA), “aircraft deliveries are poised for a solid rebound in 2023, with a total of 1,540 aircraft scheduled to be delivered this year, up 300 units (24%) compared to 2022”. In 2019, there were a total of 1,405 aircraft deliveries globally.
The European aircraft manufacturer, for example, missed its target to deliver 700 aircraft in 2022, citing a “complex operating environment”.
Qatar Airways A350 developments
However, Qatar Airways has also had to deal with the groundings of its Airbus A350 fleet amid a dispute with Airbus regarding the type’s surface erosion and related safety concerns.
While apologizing for a customer’s bad experience on one of the airline’s Airbus A330s, Al Baker stated that the type was “brought back into service due to the grounding of nearly more than half of our A350 fleet.”
“We are working very closely, in harmony, with Airbus [to] bring as many airplanes as possible. Some would need a longer period than the other [to bring them back to service],” Al Baker continued, mentioning the fact that the airline already brought back five A350s in a short period of time. “Some of those A350s will not have the replacement of the cabin because they will be going out from our fleet, replacing with newer A350s and, of course, Boeing airplanes, because we are constantly replacing airplanes,” he added.
“We do not keep airplanes of certain [age] in our fleet to also be a sustainable group,” Al Baker concluded
Overall, according to ch-aviation.com data, there are 28 Airbus A350 (six -1000, and 22 -900s) aircraft that are inactive. In total, Qatar Airways has 53 Airbus A350s in its fleet.