Qatar Airways does not see enough demand to return to fly the A380 anytime soon. Akbar al-Baker, the airline’s CEO, said on Monday that the double-decker plane should not be used until at least 2022.
“We don’t think we are going to operate our A380s for at least the next couple of years,” Akbar al-Baker said. In June, the executive had planned to resume flights with the aircraft in mid-2021, when the company expected passenger demand to return to 2019 levels.
However, this scenario seems unlikely, which has forced Qatar to keep its 10 A380s grounded for a long period. The problem in sight is that the Middle Eastern company planned to start retiring the aircraft in 2024, when the older units will complete 10 years in service.
Before the global coronavirus outbreak, Qatar Airways operated a network with 100 destinations, but so far it is only flying for 25 of them. Unlike Emirates, which only flies with the A380 and 777, Qatar has a more diverse fleet and where the importance of the Airbus jet is small.
With 234 aircraft, Qatar operates models such as the A330 and A350 in addition to the Boeing 777 and 787 on its long-haul routes. Baker even nudged his rival in the Emirates by saying he recently considered it “foolish” to fly the A380 today – Emirates has put some of its planes into service from July.
The future of the A380 has been questioned as air traffic grows. Some companies like Emirates and Korean Air have returned to flight while others like Air France have simply given up on operating it.