Qatar CEO Claims He’s Got an Aircraft Shortage — But Also Offers to Lease Planes to Partners
Qatar Airways is still dealing with a blockade that suddenly cancelled 18 routes to neighboring countries, leading the airline to post what its CEO Akbar al Baker described as a “very large loss” this year. Since the blockade has gone into place, Qatar has found homes for idle aircraft by wet-leasing aircraft to British Airways. It is also leasing some Airbus A330s to its new parter Air Italy, in which it has bought a 49% stake.
Meanwhile, the Doha-based airline is aggressively expanding by launching a number of new routes. At a conference in March 2018, al Baker rattled off 15 new routes that Qatar would be launching — and additional frequencies on nine other routes — like it was an everyday occurrence.
Now, it seems like a combination of these new routes and leasing aircraft is catching up with the airline. At a conference this week, al Baker claimed that Qatar is now “short of aircraft.” However, shortly after saying that, he reiterated that if Qatar’s partners need more aircraft, the airline “can always adjust our schedule to help them.” So, does he have too few aircraft, or enough to lease out?
Al Baker is known for making statements which aren’t always based on fact, but the airline could actually be in a situation where it both has excess aircraft and an aircraft shortage. Due to the blockade, Qatar is having to route around its largest neighbors, adding significant mileage to many flights. This extra mileage is requiring upgauging from narrow-body aircraft to longer-range, wide-body aircraft on some routes. Qatar’s leases to British Airways and Air Italy primarily have been wide-body aircraft. So, the airline could actually have excess narrow-body aircraft while fully utilizing its wide-body fleet.
This announcement of an aircraft shortage — but simultaneously the offer to help partner airlines if needed — comes shortly after al Baker vocally threatened to pull Qatar Airways out of the Oneworld alliance. This may be more al Baker grandstanding than an actual risk. But it may make sense at some point for Qatar Airways to consider actually leaving Oneworld to focus on its own growing portfolio of airline investments. Qatar is the only one of the Middle East Three airlines to be part of an alliance; Emirates and Etihad are not.
Featured image of Akbar al Baker by Alberto Riva / The Points Guy
Welcome to The Points Guy!
Earn 90,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 in purchases within the first three months of card membership. Plus, earn a $200 statement credit after your first Delta purchase within the first three months. Offer ends 7/28/21.
With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.
- Limited Time Offer: Earn 90,000 Bonus Miles after spending $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months and a $200 statement credit after you make a Delta purchase with your new Card within your first 3 months. Offer expires 7/28/2021.
- Limited Time Offer: Plus, get a 0% intro APR on purchases for 12 months from the date of account opening, then a variable 15.74%-24.74%. Offer expires 7/28/2021.
- Accelerate your path to Medallion Status, with Status Boost®. Plus, in 2021 you can earn even more bonus Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) to help you reach Medallion Status.
- Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
- Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
- Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. *Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
- Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
- Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.
- Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
- No Foreign Transaction Fees.
- $250 Annual Fee.
- Terms Apply.
- See Rates & Fees