Qatar Airways is putting its Airbus A380 back in the saddle to make up for the downtime of its A350s. (Photo: Flickr- Clément Alloing)

First there was the Airbus A330, which had to return to service last August at Qatar Airways. And now it’s the turn of five Airbus A380s to come out of retirement and be reactivated on many of the Qatari airline’s routes. An operation which is not carried out with joy, according to the CEO of the company, Akbar Al-Baker.

“The recent grounding of 19 A350s

has left us with no choice but to temporarily bring back part of our A380 fleet on key winter routes. These groundings are due to an ongoing problem of accelerated degradation of the fuselage surface under the paint. It has not yet been resolved with the manufacturer and the root cause is not yet known,” describes the CEO.

The A350s are currently banned from flying by order of the Qatari Civil Aviation Authority. Qatar Airways is facing a reduction in fleet capacity at a time when demand for flights is picking up. And Qatar Airways is gradually reopening most of the stops it served before the pandemic.

A temporary return

The company is thus forced to reactivate at least five of the ten A380s parked at the former Doha airport. The planes should be flying from December 15, serving London-Heathrow and Paris-CDG.

“This difficult decision reflects the seriousness of the A350 problem. It is intended as a short-term measure to help us balance our commercial needs. It does not mean a permanent reintroduction of our A380 fleet. The latter was grounded in favour of more fuel-efficient aircraft at the start of the Covid-19″ pandemic, Akbar Al-Baker points out.

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“Looking ahead, we remain committed to finding alternative solutions to meet customer demand. And maintain the highest levels of sustainability and customer experience for our passengers. We continue to strongly urge Airbus to prioritise its investigations into the root cause of the problem affecting the A350. And to ensure that it provides a permanent solution to repair the damage and correct the cause,” the company’s CEO said.

Luc Citrinot