Qatar Airways confirmed that it had taken an impairment on all ten of its Airbus A380 aircraft in the airline group’s annual results. As of January, the airline had only impaired half of its fleet, meaning that the other five aircraft would’ve theoretically been able to return to the skies in due course.
While each of the big three Middle East airlines has the Airbus A380, their opinions on the jet vary drastically. Emirates has already brought the plane back, while Etihad has sent it to storage but not entirely ruled out its return. It seems as though Qatar Airways now has ruled out its return.
All ten jets impaired
Qatar Airways’ annual report for the 2020/2021 year revealed that it has now taken steps that mean the Airbus A380 won’t return to service post-pandemic, even as a smaller fleet. According to the report,
“Due to COVID-19’s impact on travel demand, the airline took the decision to ground its fleet of A380 aircraft… the airline made the prudent choice to take an impairment on 10 of its Airbus A380 aircraft.”
We can assume that the airline has now firmly ruled out the giant of the skies’ return with this news. In January, the airline’s Group CEO, Akbar Al Baker, revealed that five of the airline’s aircraft had been impaired. At the time, he revealed that this meant only five of the jets would return to the skies.
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Not a huge surprise?
In the months since Al Baker has been increasingly critical of the gigantic aircraft. Speaking exclusively to Simple Flying in May, he called the Airbus A380 Qatar Airways’ “biggest mistake”, revealing that it is difficult to justify operating such an aircraft given the current focus on sustainability. Al Baker commented,
“I know the passengers love it. It’s a very quiet airplane, it’s a very smart airplane, but the damage it does to the environment should be priority, and not the comfort.”
A look at Qatar Airways’ Airbus A380 fleet
Qatar Airways’ fleet of ten Airbus A380s is still relatively young. The fleet’s average age is just 6.22, according to data from ch-aviation.com. The oldest aircraft is A7-APA. It is 8.07 years old, having taken its first flight on September 6th, 2013. The jet was delivered to Qatar on September 18th the following year. Since then, it has racked up 26,456 hours across 3,518 flight cycles.
By comparison, the youngest jet is A7-APJ, with an age of 3.8 years. This aircraft took its first flight on December 12th, 2017, and was delivered on April 24th, 2018. This jet has completed 10,583 flight hours across 1,206 flights.
In total, the airline’s A380 fleet has flown for 206,532 hours, equating to 23.6 years of collective flying. British Airways’ fleet of 12 aircraft with an average age of 7.44 years has completed 297,745 hours (33.99 years) of flights between them. Scaled to ten jets, this would equate to 248,120 hours (28.3 years).
Are you sad to see Qatar Airways close the door on the Airbus A380? Let us know what you think and why in the comments!