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A sign of the times: Qatar won’t fly half its A380 fleet again

Jan. 13, 2021
3 min read
A sign of the times: Qatar won’t fly half its A380 fleet again
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There’s no doubt that the A380 is becoming an endangered species.

On Wednesday, Qatar CEO Akbar Al Baker said at a CAPA Live event that the airline would only bring half of its fleet of 10 A380s back into service when demand for air travel starts to return to pre-COVID-19 levels. The airline’s entire fleet of A380s remains grounded at this time due to COVID-19.

“The 380 is, I think, one of the worst aircraft when it comes to emissions that is flying today,” Al Baker said. “This is why we have decided that we will not operate them for the foreseeable future and even when we operate them we will only operate half the numbers we have.”

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Qatar Airways has previously cited the aircraft’s sustainability as cause for concern about the future of the A380 in its fleet.

Of the 10 A380s in Qatar’s fleet, the average aircraft age is just 5.5 years, according to data from Planespotters.net. It first took delivery of one of the superjumbos in September 2014. The youngest of the Qatar A380s is just over 3 years old, having been delivered to the airline in April 2018.

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The A380 is the only Qatar Airways aircraft outfitted with a first-class cabin — complete with a bar. Qatar’s famed Qsuite does not feature on any of the A380s, as it’s offered solely as business-class seating on some of the airline’s Boeing 777s and A350s. As for economy, flying Qatar’s A380 is one of the most comfortable ways to fly in the rear of the plane.

Related: Qatar Airways business-class seats ranked from best to worst

The initial outbreak of coronavirus in March 2020 forced many airlines to ground their A380s because of reduced passenger demand. Fast-forward to May and there was only one airline in the world still operating the superjumbo, though some have since resumed A380 operations.

The continued lack of demand for air travel over the course of 2020 meant that seeing A380s in the sky was rare. Airlines across the world have had to make network and fleet changes in line with the ongoing global crisis, which even meant that some airlines retired their A380s forever. French flag carrier Air France and Portuguese charter airline HiFly both retired the rest of their A380 fleets.

Emirates, the largest operator of the A380 with 117 of the aircraft in its fleet, remains committed to the aircraft. Even as the pandemic still looms, Emirates has resumed flying the A380 to several destinations, including London. Additionally, it elected to install its newest premium economy cabin on its brand-new A380s. The airline will resume flying its A380s to U.S. destinations in March.

Featured image by The stunningly spacious first class seat onboard Qatar's A380
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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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
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10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
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Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,400+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and our Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023