Qatar Airways has again made it clear that it currently does not see a long-term future for its fleet of A380 aircraft, despite being set to reactivate at least five of the superjumbos in the coming weeks.
As reported by Business Traveller at the start of October, the carrier is planning to reintroduce select A380 services to destinations including London Heathrow and Paris CDG from mid-December.
The move has been forced on the airline due to the recent grounding of a total of 19 of its A350 aircraft, due to “accelerated surface degradation below the paint”.
Qatar Airways said it had taken “the reluctant decision” to bring at least half of its fleet of ten A380s back into service to cover the capacity shortage.
The carrier’s superjumbos have not flown for over 18 months, and the airline has repeatedly said that “it is not commercially or environmentally justifiable to operate such a large aircraft in the current market”.
Group CEO Akbar Al Baker said that the grounding of the A350s “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,” added Al Baker.
“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.”
Qatar Airways has also reactivated a number of A330 aircraft to help cover an increase in capacity requirements due to easing travel restrictions and the upcoming peak winter holiday period, which it says are anticipated to see a return to pre-Covid levels.
“One of Qatar Airways’ greatest assets is our highly flexible fleet of diverse aircraft,” said Al Baker.
“This means we are not dependent on a specific aircraft type, and enables us to balance our commercial needs with our responsibilities to maintain an environmentally sustainable fleet at all times.
“Looking forward, we remain committed to finding alternative solutions to support customer demand and maintain the highest levels of sustainability and customer experience for our passengers.
“We continue to strongly urge Airbus to prioritize their investigations into the conclusive root cause of the issue affecting the A350 aircraft type, and ensure it proposes a permanent solution at the earliest opportunity to repair the damage and correct the underlying root cause.”