It seems Qatar Airways is intent on keeping its Airbus A380 fleet on the ground, whilst letting others members of its long haul fleet fly.
We can all blame to COVID-19’s impact on travel demand. The airline has decided to ground its fleet of Airbus A380s as it is not commercially or environmentally justifiable to operate such a large aircraft in the current market.
The airline instead will continue to utilise its fleet of Airbus A350 and Boeing 787 aircraft.
The airline is the largest operator of the Airbus A350 family – operating both the A350-900 and A350-1000 – a combined 49 aircraft. Meanwhile, the 30 Boeing 787 aircraft in the Qatar Airways fleet also provide appropriate capacity to offer the right capacity on routes in Europe while markets recover. The A350s will fill the role of long-haul routes to the Americas, Europe and Asia-Pacific regions.
Meanwhile, the A380 remains grounded until demand picks up.
The airline boasts the A350’s improvements over the A380, with the airline’s internal benchmark compared the A380 to the A350 on routes from Doha to London, Guangzhou, Frankfurt, Paris, Melbourne, Sydney, Toronto and New York. On a typical one-way flight, the airline found the A350 aircraft saved a minimum of 16 tonnes of carbon dioxide per block hour compared to the A380.
We will not resume flying the A380 until demand returns to appropriate levels. Having closely studied the numbers, flying such a large aircraft with a low load factor does not meet our environmental responsibilities or make commercial sense. https://t.co/aALIf33GAA
— Qatar Airways (@qatarairways) July 18, 2020
The analysis found that the A380 emitted over 80% more CO2 per block hour than the A350 on each of these routes. In the cases of Melbourne, New York and Toronto the A380 emitted 95% more CO2 per block hour with the A350 saving around 20 tonnes of CO2 per block hour. Until passenger demand recovers to appropriate levels, Qatar Airways will continue to keep its A380 aircraft grounded, ensuring it only operates commercially and environmentally responsible aircraft.
Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive, Akbar Al Baker said
“Qatar Airways Group has a strong record of industry leadership on sustainable operations. We take our responsibilities to care for the environment seriously and sustainability is at the forefront of our business planning across the group, this is why we have an average fleet age of less than five years, one of the youngest in the world. Thanks to our strategic and diversified investment in our fleet, the viability of our operations has not been dependent on any specific aircraft type. This has enabled us to be one of the few global airlines to never stop operating during this crisis, carrying over two million passengers and in the process becoming the largest international airline in the world. Our fleet mix has enabled us to continue operating routes throughout this crisis ensuring we do not leave passengers stranded.
“As we rebuild our network, passengers can rely on us to operate an honest schedule of flights to take them where they want to go, using the right size aircraft to offer sensible capacity on each route. As a result, we will not resume flying our fleet of A380 until demand returns to appropriate levels. Having closely studied the environmental impact numbers, flying such a large aircraft with a low load factor does not meet our environmental responsibilities or make commercial sense. Our young fleet of Airbus A350 and Boeing 787 aircraft are a much better fit for current global demand.”
A waiting game?
It seems that Qatar Airways can’t make the A380 work at the minute (even though it would offer the most space on an aircraft for social distancing). With a fleet of ten aircraft, that’s not many to lose in the longer term (even if the airline had panicled the type to exit the fleet in 2024).
As Emirates is preparing to ramp up A380 use again (with two daily services currently, ramping up to four shortly), it’ll be being to add pressure to the airline… as well as others who operate the A380.
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