Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker just confirmed that the airline will restart flights operated by the Airbus A380 which were thought to never return, yet they’ll be back as soon as November 2021.
Just a few months ago Mr. Al Baker said the A380 was a commercial mistake and the aircraft will likely never fly again for Qatar Airways but issues surrounding the airworthiness of the A350 over claims of fuselage degradation forced the carrier to make a decision.
Qatar’s aviation regulator has grounded 13 A350 aircraft and this presents a problem for the carrier until the matter is resolved. As such the A380 will be put back into service which will come as a pleasant surprise for many QR customers as the plane is a favorite among fliers (yet it doesn’t feature the QSuite).
Qatar Airways has already begun to retrain cabin crew for the A380 as a friend relayed to me.
In an interview with the Executive Traveler Mr. Al Baker says all ten A380 might return to the skies.
Five of the Gulf carrier’s A380s will initially come out of mothballs as a stop-gap measure to help the airline cope with increasing demand while 13 of its Airbus A350 jets remain grounded over claims of fuselage degradation.
However, the entire ten-strong fleet could be back in the air in 2022 as the airline scrambles to match its long-haul capacity to resurgent passenger demand.
“I think by early November we’ll be starting to fly the A380s again” revealed Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker in an exclusive interview with Executive Traveller.
“At the moment we are looking at flying five, but we may have to fly all ten.” …
“We grounded the A380s at the beginning of the pandemic, and we never wanted to fly them again,” Al Baker admits, well aware that only five months ago he described his purchase of the superjumbos as “the biggest mistake” in the airline’s history, sledging the superjumbo’s thirst for fuel and environmental impact.
At the time, he said “I don’t think there is a market for that airplane in the foreseeable future.”
Being able to pull the A380 out of early retirement is definitely an asset for Qatar Airways as they need to substitute capacity that was taken away by the grounding of the A350 for the time being.
It’s unclear at this point if the flights will feature a First Class service. The A380 obviously has a First Class cabin but if it’ll be opened for either ticketing or even seating is not confirmed at this point.
The same goes for the bar in the back of the upper deck. It’s very possible that the bar service will be cut due to Covid concerns. I wouldn’t expect the full A380 experience as we’ve known it pre-pandemic.
A few days ago Qatar Airways a massive US$4 Billion annual loss according to Al Jazeera. Qatar has continued to fly throughout the pandemic and connected the world while other carriers have shut down. The carrier will receive US$3 Billion in state aid amid the losses.
Very soon we’ll see the A380 of Qatar Airways flying again to substitute grounded A350 aircraft. Crew is currently training to be (re)certified to work on the Superjumbo and it’ll be on the schedules from early November forward.
We’ll definitely watch the schedule to see on which routes the A380 will be deployed and what services are going to be available, in particular First Class and the bar service for premium passengers.