MIAMI – Qatar Airways (QR) CEO Akbar Al Baker has decided to cut the ten-strong quad-engined A380 fleet by half due to environmental concerns.
Today, QR’s chief executive reiterated his views on the A380 at the online CAPA Centre for Aviation conference, stating that the Doha-based airline will only operate half of its Airbus A380s fleet even after travel demand returns to levels that can easily support the superjumbo.
The airline had previously warned that, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, its A380s could be grounded indefinitely and stated it had no plans to fly the planes until the end of 2021 at the earliest.
Comments from Akbar AL Baker
Qatar Airways’ CEO said, “The A380 is one of the worst aircraft when it comes to emissions that is flying today,” Baker told the conference. “That is why we have decided that we will not operate them for the foreseeable future – and even when we will operate them, we will only operate half of the numbers we have…So if you are very interested to purchase some for yourself, I will sell [them] to you.”
According to flightglobal.com, Al Baker cited the superior economics and subsequently lower environmental footprint of the Airbus A350s and Boeing 787s in the Oneworld carrier fleet versus those of the Airbus superjumbo during the online event today.
Fleet data from Cirium shows that QR has 33 A350-900s, 19 A350-1000s, 30 787-8s and seven 787-9s in service alongside other types, with a further two A350-900s and all 10 of its A380s in storage. The carrier also has outstanding orders for 23 A350-1000s and the same number of 787-9s, according to the data.
An Announced A380 Retirement
In 2019, QR had already announced plans to retire its A380s permanently by 2024 before the pandemic, but the slump in travel demand caused by the COVID-19 crisis forced the fleet into long-term storage.
According to paddleyourowncanoo.com, Al Baker has previously expressed pessimism about the A380’s prospects, criticizing airlines that are preparing to continue to fly the aircraft in large numbers. His remarks were seen as guarded criticism of competitor Emirates Airlines (EK), which plans to operate its entire 117 A380 fleet in the near future.
When the extent of the COVID-19 pandemic began to become clear, QR rapidly grounded its fleet. In late March 2020, however, the airline conducted many A380 flights as part of a major repatriation operations before borders were closed.
Featured image: Qatar Airways A380. Photo: Tony Bordelais/Airways – @tony_aviation_photography