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A blast from the past: Qatar Airways resurrects iconic Airbus A380

March 23, 2022
4 min read
Qatar Airways Airbus A380
A blast from the past: Qatar Airways resurrects iconic Airbus A380
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The mammoth Airbus A380, air travel's version of a luxury mega ship, is making a comeback. It's the biggest passenger airliner ever manufactured -- a four-engine, double-decker air monster with a wingspan the length of four blue whales.

Qatar Airways is now putting more of the iconic superjumbos among the clouds to meet rising demand as travelers reconnect with loved ones or seek new business opportunities after the pandemic.

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The Qatari carrier has now "reactivated" eight A380s, one of which it has already deployed to whisk passengers between Sydney and Doha beginning June 1.

Its plan is to dispatch more A380s in the coming months connecting Asia with Europe.

“We will have eight (A380s) reactivated,” the airline’s Chief Commercial Officer Thierry Antinori told Executive Traveller. “We will look at different combinations between Europe and Asia.”

Qatar already put four of the jumbos back into action last November, connecting London and Paris to Doha.

Related: Qatar launches Avios transfers, British Airways lowers the price of Qsuite awards

That leaves just two of the airline’s 10-strong fleet of A380s still under dust sheets in Qatar's plane yard, with speculation they too might soon be wheeled out of retirement.

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A return to favor?

The move signals something of a return to favor for the fuel-guzzling superjumbo -- once heralded as the future of air travel -- which has fallen on hard times of late.

The A380 has suffered in a crowded market where cost-efficiency and sustainability are king and queen. The past half-decade has seen the superjumbo trudge grimly towards the scrapyard as younger, more fashionable and fuel-efficient models step into its limelight.

And, after a number of airlines ditched their fleets of A380s and canceled orders, Airbus finally called a time-out on its production in 2021.

Related: Could the beleaguered A380 be the key to unlocking fossil-free flying?

Only last summer, Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker branded his purchase of A380s as “the biggest mistake” in the company’s history after shelling out $4.9 billion ($498 million each) on ten planes across the last two decades.

“The biggest mistake we made was the purchase of Airbus A380s,” Al Baker said in June 2021. “We grounded the A380s simply because it is not a fuel-efficient airplane.”

A paint palaver

The return of the A380s was in some ways spurred on when Qatar was forced to ground almost half of its 53-strong fleet of A350s when peeling paint was noticed on some of the planes' fuselages.

Related: Airbus cancels more of Qatar Airways’ orders as paint fight continues

Qatar is now bogged down in a bitter legal wrangle with Airbus after suing the European manufacturer for $600 million for what it claims are dangerous "fuselage degradation" issues with the aircraft.

Then, when Qatar halted all orders with Airbus until the dispute is settled, the latter countersued in London's High Court for $220 million in damages over two completed A350s that are ready to be delivered.

So, while that saga trundles on, the old A380 workhorses are back. The question of how long they’ll stay in business this time, however, remains up in the air.

Featured image by Photo by Paul Thompson
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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Apply for American Express® Gold Card
at American Express's secure site
Terms & restrictions apply. See rates & fees
Best for the well-traveled foodie
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S.
4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
3XEarn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.

    60,000 bonus points
  • Annual Fee

    $250
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Excellent/Good

Why We Chose It

There's a lot to love about the Amex Gold card. It's been a fan favorite during the pandemic because of its fantastic rewards rate on restaurants (that includes takeout and delivery in the U.S.!) and U.S. supermarkets. If you're hitting the skies soon, you'll also earn bonus points on travel. Paired with up to $120 in Uber Cash (for U.S. Uber rides or Uber Eats orders) and up to $120 in annual dining statement credits at eligible partners, there's no reason that the foodie shouldn't add this card to their wallet. Enrollment required.

Pros

  • 4x on dining at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets (on the first $25,000 in purchases per calendar year; then 1x)
  • 3x on flights booked directly with the airline or with Amex Travel
  • Welcome bonus of 60,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first six months

Cons

  • Weak on travel outside of flights and everyday spending bonus categories
  • Not as useful for those living outside the U.S.
  • Some may have trouble using Uber/food credits
  • Few travel perks and protections
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S., and earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • $120 Uber Cash on Gold: Add your Gold Card to your Uber account and each month automatically get $10 in Uber Cash for Uber Eats orders or Uber rides in the U.S., totaling up to $120 per year.
  • $120 Dining Credit: Satisfy your cravings and earn up to $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with the American Express® Gold Card at Grubhub, The Cheesecake Factory, Goldbelly, Wine.com, Milk Bar and select Shake Shack locations. Enrollment required.
  • Choose the color that suits your style. Gold or Rose Gold.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Annual Fee is $250.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees