But the move is a short-term measure to boost its fleet capacity ahead of a projected surge of demand for travel during the winter season.
Last week, a Qatar Airways Airbus A380 took to the skies for the first time in more than 18 months after the airline reluctantly took the decision to welcome the fleet back into operation due to an ongoing capacity shortage. At least five of the airline’s 10 superjumbos will be brought back into service on a temporary basis from December 15 to support fleet capacity on key winter routes, including Doha–London Heathrow and Doha–Paris CDG.
The Gulf carrier also recently reintroduced a number of its A330 fleet following a continued increase in capacity requirements due to the easing of restrictions and anticipated demand for travel during the peak winter holiday period. Qatar Airways is forging ahead with efforts to rebuild its network, which currently stands at over 140 destinations, but the airline is currently facing significant limitations to its fleet capacity due to accelerated surface degradation below the paint on more than a dozen A350s. The issue remains unresolved between Qatar Airways and Airbus and the root cause of the damage is not yet understood.
Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive, Akbar Al Baker, said in a statement, “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.”
He called it a “difficult decision” and a short-term measure to help Qatar’s national carrier meet its commercial needs. “It does not signify a permanent reintroduction of our A380 fleet, which were grounded in favor of more fuel-efficient, twin-engine aircraft at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic,” the company boss added. “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.”