A Qatar Airways Airbus A380 took to the skies for the first time in more than 18 months earlier this week, positioning the aircraft from Doha International Airport (DIA) to Hamad International Airport (HIA) after the airline reluctantly took the decision to welcome the fleet back into operation due to ongoing capacity shortage.
It is anticipated that at least five of the airline’s 10 A380 aircraft will be brought back into service on a temporary basis over the coming weeks to support fleet capacity on key winter routes, including London Heathrow (LHR) and Paris (CDG), from 15 December 2021.
The national carrier for the State of Qatar is currently facing significant limitations to its fleet capacity as a result of the recent grounding of 19 of its Airbus A350 fleet due to an accelerated surface degradation condition impacting the surface of the aircraft below the paint, as mandated by the Qatar Civil Aviation Authority (QCAA).
The airline also recently re-introduced a number of its A330 fleet following a continued increase in capacity requirements due to the easing of travel restrictions and the upcoming peak winter holiday period, which are anticipated to see a return to pre-COVID levels.
Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive, His Excellency Mr. Akbar Al Baker, said: “The recent grounding of 19 Qatar Airways A350 fleet has left us with no alternative but to temporarily bring some of our A380 fleet back on key winter routes.
“These groundings are due to an ongoing issue relating to the accelerated degradation of the fuselage surface below the paint, which as yet remains an unresolved matter between Qatar Airways and the manufacturer for which the root cause is yet to be understood.
“This difficult decision reflects the gravity of the A350 issue and is intended to be a short-term measure to assist us in balancing our commercial needs. It does not signify a permanent reintroduction of our A380 fleet, which were grounded in favour of more fuel-efficient, twin-engine aircraft at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“One of Qatar Airways’ greatest assets is our highly flexible fleet of diverse aircraft. This means we are not dependent on a specific aircraft type, and enables us to balance our commercial needs with our responsibilities to maintain an environmentally sustainable fleet at all times.
“Looking forward, we remain committed to finding alternative solutions to support customer demand and maintain the highest levels of sustainability and customer experience for our passengers.
“We continue to strongly urge Airbus to prioritize their investigations into the conclusive root cause of the issue affecting the A350 aircraft type, and ensure it proposes a permanent solution at the earliest opportunity to repair the damage and correct the underlying root cause.”
The national carrier of the State of Qatar continues to rebuild its network, which currently stands at over 140 destinations. With more frequencies being added to key hubs, Qatar Airways offers unrivalled connectivity to passengers, making it easy for them to connect to a destination of their choice, seamlessly.
A multiple award-winning airline, Qatar Airways was announced as the ‘Airline of the Year’ by the international air transport rating organisation, Skytrax, in addition to securing five additional awards including ‘World’s Best Business Class’, ‘World’s Best Business Class Airline Lounge’, ‘World’s Best Business Class Airline Seat’, ‘World’s Best Business Class Onboard Catering’ and ‘Best Airline in the Middle East’. The airline continues to stand alone at the top of the industry having won the main prize for an unprecedented sixth time (2011, 2012, 2015, 2017, 2019 and 2021). The airline’s hub, Hamad International Airport (HIA), was also recently recognised as the ‘Best Airport in the World 2021’, ranking at number one in the Skytrax World Airport Awards 2021.
In addition to this, Qatar Airways is the first global airline in the world to achieve the prestigious 5-Star COVID-19 Airline Safety Rating by Skytrax. This follows the success of HIA as the first airport in the Middle East and Asia to be awarded a Skytrax 5-Star COVID-19 Airport Safety Rating. These awards provide assurance to passengers around the world that the airline’s health and safety standards are subject to the highest possible standards of professional, independent scrutiny and assessment.