Qatar Airways says it will retire its fleet of Airbus A380 superjumbos once the delivery of more fuel-efficient aircraft like the A350 resume. The airline confirmed the news on the sidelines of the Paris Air Show, much to the disappointment of assembled journalists.
The Doha-based carrier grounded its fleet of A380s at the start of the pandemic in early 2020, and outspoken CEO Akbar Al Baker later described the superjumbos as the airline’s worst mistake.
By November 2021, however, Qatar Airways had started to reactivate its A380s – partly to meet surging demand, as well as to make up for a shortfall in capacity after the airline started to ground scores of A350s over a paint defect that exposed a special layer of lightning protection.
But now that the dispute with Airbus over the paint defect has been settled and the delivery of A350s has resumed, Qatar Airways has indicated that it will retire its superjumbo fleet within the next few years, Simple Flying reports.
At present, Qatar Airways is operating eight out of ten A380s in its fleet, and there are no plans to reactivate the remaining two. The only thing holding the carrier back now is ongoing supply chain constraints that are putting a squeeze on the entire airline industry.
One of the main reasons Qatar Airways wants to retire the A380 sooner rather than later is the fact that the quad-engined aircraft is such a massive gas guzzler. Al Baker has described it as the worst aircraft in commercial service for emissions.
Qatar Airways has already taken a multi-billion-dollar impairment on its A380 fleet, so the airline is no longer concerned about getting further financial value out of the aircraft.
For passengers, news of the impending retirement of the A380 is a mixed bag of pros and cons. The superjumbo is generally considered a comfortable and quiet aircraft to fly on, especially in Economy due to the plane’s sheer size.
For premium passengers, the A380 doesn’t feature Qatar Airways’ much-lauded QSuite Business Class, although the Collins Super Diamond seats installed on the superjumbo are spacious and have been well maintained.
The A380 is also the only aircraft in the Qatar Airways mainline fleet to feature an onboard bar and a proper First Class cabin (excluding the ex-Cathay Pacific aircraft). Of course, just like the A380, Qatar Airways has confirmed that there is no future for an international First Class and that product will also be retired along with the A380.