By Victor Shalton
Qatar Airways Grounds A380s, Begins Rebuilding Network
Qatar Airways has decided to keep its fleet of 10 Airbus A380s grounded, citing the aircraft’s vast commercial and environmental footprint.
“Due to COVID-19’s impact on travel demand, the airline has taken the decision 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,” Qatar said in a press release.
“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,” the statement continued.
Qatar’s mix of 49 Airbus A350s and 37 Boeing 787 Dreamliners, all more modern and fuel-efficient aircraft than the A380, has helped it develop a sustainable and adaptable solution to maintain environmental commitments amid the Coronavirus-induced demand dropoff, ensuring environmentally conscious passengers can travel with ease. The carrier continues to assess both passenger and cargo demand to ensure it operates the most practical and efficient aircraft on each route, especially with regards to its environmental responsibilities.
The Doha-based airline has remained focused on its mission of taking people home and transporting essential aid to regions most impacted by the Coronavirus pandemic. It is among the few global airlines that never stopped flying throughout the ongoing crisis.
Qatar is the world’s largest operator of the A350 model. It currently has 34 A350-900 and 15 A350-1000 airliners in its fleet, putting it in a perfect position to rebuild its network. Qatar Airways was also the first airline to launch both the A350-900 and the A350-1000 models.
The carrier recently did an internal benchmark comparing the A380 and A350 variants on routes from Doha to London; Guangzhou, China; Frankfurt, Germany; Paris; Melbourne and Sydney, Australia; Toronto and New York. The analysis found the A350 variant saved a minimum of 16 tons of carbon dioxide per block hour compared to the A380 variant. And while the A380 emitted over 80% of carbon dioxide per block hour than the A350 variant on each of these routes, on certain routes, like those to Toronto, Melbourne and New York, the A380 emitted at least 95% more carbon dioxide per block hour with the A350 variant, per the airline’s statement.
Qatar also recently announced its plans to expand its capacity to more than 53 million passengers annually by 2022, strengthening its position as the airline of choice for savvy international travelers in its region.
Meanwhile, the carrier announced it will follow up with the International Civil Aviation Organization on its earlier complaint of a blockade by a number of neighboring nations. The ICAO previously ruled the blockade violated of the Chicago Convention and the International Air Services Transit Agreement.
Qatar Airways has ended up needing to fly longer routes to circumvent airspace closures, which has in turn prevented the airline from operating its full pre-blockade capacity.
“[Our neighboring countries] have arbitrarily prevented us from serving hundreds of thousands of passengers and transporting tens of thousands of tons of cargo to and from each of these countries annually,” said the airline in a previous press release.
“Qatar Airways will pursue its case for appropriate compensation of the financial injuries inflicted on Qatar Airways as a result of the illegal airspace blockade,” continued the statement.