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

Jan 13, 2021

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

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.”

Sign up to receive the daily TPG newsletter for more airline news!

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.

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 photo by Liam Spencer/The Points Guy.

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card

Earn 90,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer ends 8/3/2022.

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.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 90,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer ends 8/3/2022.
  • Earn up to 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) with Status Boost® per year. After you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, you can earn 10,000 MQMs up to two times per year, getting you closer to Medallion® Status. MQMs are used to determine Medallion® Status and are different than miles you earn toward flights.
  • Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
  • Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide including takeout and delivery in the U.S., and at U.S. supermarkets.
  • Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
  • 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 $80 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 PreCheck® after you apply through any Authorized Enrollment Provider. If approved for Global Entry, at no additional charge, you will receive access to TSA PreCheck.
  • 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
Regular APR
17.24%-26.24% Variable
Annual Fee
Balance Transfer Fee
Recommended Credit
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.