MIAMI – British Airways has begun wet leasing narrowbody aircraft from Qatar Airways amid cabin crew protests. The nine aircraft, all Airbus A320s, joined the British Airways fleet last week and fly to an assortment of destinations throughout Europe.
Relations between British Airways and its cabin crews have deteriorated in recent weeks. After a series of threats to strike and 16 days of cabin crews walking off the job, British Airways has announced another round of protests to coincide with the summer rush. This time, cabin crews will walk off the job for a period of 14 days beginning on July 19th.
To compensate for the crew shortage, British Airways has resorted to temporarily wet leasing several narrowbody A320 aircraft from Qatar Airways. The agreement is a win-win for both carriers.
Qatar Airways, facing a diplomatic crisis with its neighboring countries, currently has a surplus of narrowbody aircraft as the airline is barred from flying routes to the UAE, Suadi Arabia, Egypt, and Bahrain. At the same time, British Airways is in desperate need for narrowbody crews and aircraft during the cabin crew protests.
The nine aircraft were originally scheduled to fly for British Airways for a period of two weeks. With the announcement of more protests, the aircraft will now remain in the fleet for a longer period of time. The aircraft can fly for British Airways for a maximum of two months.
British Airways passengers flying Qatar Airways operated flights will be pleasantly surprised by the hard product the Qatar A320s have to offer. The Qatar A320 offers a far superior product to passengers than the standard British Airways A320 does.
Qatar Airways owns a 20.01% stake in the International Airlines Group (IAG), a holding company that owns many European airlines including British Airways, Aer Lingus, Iberia, LEVEL, and Vueling.
The relationship between Qatar Airways and its European partners has proven to be controversial. Just like the unwelcoming reaction to Qatar Airways pursuing a 10% stake in Amercian Airlines, many view Qatar as an unwelcome threat to IAG.
With Qatar dealing with its own problems at home, IAG may prove to be a savior for them financially. With Qatar Airways’ future uncertain, IAG provides Qatar with a stable platform for growth and investment. Just last month, IAG launched a new low-cost airline, LEVEL, to operate flights between the United States and Barcelona.