British Airways Requests to Lease 3 Qatar Airways A330s to Limit Dreamliner Disruptions
British Airways has applied for approval from the UK Civil Aviation Authority to wet lease three Qatar Airways A330 aircraft to reduce operation disruptions caused by the ongoing Dreamliner engine issues.
British Airways requested permission from the CAA to wet lease the three Qatari A330s between June 1 and September 30, 2018. In the filing, FlightGlobal reports that British Airways said that it was requesting to wet lease the aircraft in order to "support passenger operations" as the carrier deals with the "impact of aircraft availability within its own fleet as a result of issues surrounding the Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 Package C engine."
Earlier this month, Qatar Airways' CEO Akbar al-Baker said that the airline was considering "loaning" aircraft to British Airways. The two are more connected than just a standard airline partnership. Qatar Airways also owns a 21% stake in International Airlines Group (IAG), which is the parent company of British Airways.
Willie Walsh, IAG's CEO, said earlier this month that "a number" of BA's 787s would be "unavailable" through May, June and July. As the Trent 1000 aircraft engines are in the process of being repaired, British Airways would likely find itself in the same place as other Dreamliner operators, such as Norwegian, that have been forced to cancel flights. (Norwegian has also wet leased aircraft from other operators in order to keep operations as normal as possible.)
A spokesman for the CAA told TPG that the agency is still in the process of reviewing British Airways' application, and nothing has yet been approved.
TPG reached out to British Airways but did not hear back by time of publication.
If approved, this would be the first time BA has leased one of Qatar's long-haul aircraft. Because these are Qatar's aircraft, you can expect its seats. Qatar's A330s vary greatly — some offer angle-flat seats in business class and some offer lie-flat seats. It's not clear which version of the aircraft BA could potentially be getting. If the aircraft is, indeed, the -300, it could be a positive swap for BA flyers. Check out this review of the business class experience on board a Qatar A330-300, featuring a lie-flat seat.
The Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 engines equip about 25% of the global Dreamliner fleet. In 2016, it was discovered that fan blades on the engines were showing early signs of corrosion, causing some operators to ground their aircraft and alter operations. Since initial inspections started, Rolls-Royce discovered more issues with the engines than originally thought. With new mandates in place, airlines have been forced to get their Trent 1000-equipped Dreamliners fixed — from BA to Norwegian, ANA, Thai Airways, Air New Zealand, Virgin Atlantic, LATAM and more.