Akbar Al Baker, CEO of the Qatar Airways Group, has cast doubt on the future of the Airbus A380. In an interview with Sam Chui, He commented that if the pandemic continues over the coming years, the airline will need to retire its remaining five jets.
While many consider it to be a great plane, the Airbus A380 was sadly released at the wrong time to make it viable. This is especially true given the current COVID-19 pandemic. Many airlines have withdrawn their entire A380 fleets, with some looking unlikely to return them to service. Qatar is increasingly looking like one of these airlines.
“Punishing” operating costs
Al Baker’s discontent with the Airbus A380 is nothing new. However, through the course of the pandemic, he has expressed his unhappiness with the jet several times. It seems that his view hasn’t changed. According to an interview with Sam Chui, the CEO is even considering not bringing the A380 back to service.
“There is no future for the A380. It was the wrong aeroplane at the wrong time. It is something that passengers love, many liked to travel on the A380. It’s very quiet and it’s very spacious, but at the end of the day, for the operator, it’s really painful to keep them in the skies.”
Baker went on to tell Chui that he doesn’t believe that passengers will want to get on the A380 once travel resumes post-pandemic. This is because of its fuel burn per seat mile above “any other airplane that is flying today”.
Farewell Airbus A380?
Qatar Airways has 10 Airbus A380s, registered A7-APA through A7-APJ. According to Planespotters.net, the fleet has an average age of just 5.8 years, with the youngest clocking in at just 3.3 years old. Many had commented that it was sad to see Air France’s ten-year-old A380s retired at such a young age.
Qatar Airways has already written off five of its ten Airbus A380 aircraft. That is to say that these aircraft have been removed from the airline’s fleet plans. However, Al Baker added, that should the pandemic continue over the next two to three years, the remaining five aircraft will suffer a similar fate.
Not everybody agrees
It seems that not everybody agrees with Al Baker’s beliefs on the A380 however. Yesterday British Airways CEO Sean Doyle revealed that the British flag carrier will resume flights with the A380, as will Australia’s Qantas.
Emirates has already resumed flights with the Airbus A380. While it may be insignificant to Qatar Airways’ capacity if the airline were to not fly the A380 again, this would not be the case with Emirates. The A380 makes up over half of the UAE carrier’s capacity, meaning that it would struggle without the type.
However, Emirates President Sir Tim Clark recently told Simple Flying that 85% of the airline’s pre-pandemic profits came from the giant of the skies.