Qatar Airways’ Surprising 777 Retirement Plans

Filed Under: Qatar

A lot of airlines are rethinking their fleets as a result of the current pandemic, and Qatar Airways is no exception. The airline has revealed two surprising (to me) updates about the future of the Boeing 777.

Qatar Airways will retire current 777s by 2024

Qatar Airways currently has 57 Boeing 777s in its fleet, including:

  • Nine Boeing 777-200LRs, which were delivered between 2009 and 2011
  • 48 Boeing 777-300ERs, which were delivered between 2007 and 2019

Qatar Airways 777-300ER

Executive Traveller reports that Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker has indicated that all current Qatar Airways 777s will be retired by 2024.

Personally this surprises me a bit:

  • Qatar Airways took delivery of 777s as recently as 2019, so plans on retiring them after at most five years of service
  • Qatar Airways has just spent a boatload of money installing new Qsuites cabins on 777s

Qatar Airways’ 777 Qsuites

For a long time the 777 was the backbone of Qatar Airways’ long haul fleet, though in the meantime the Doha based airline has just as many A350s (split between the -900 and -1000), with nearly 30 more on order.

On top of that, Qatar Airways has the next generation Boeing 777Xs on order, including:

  • 10 Boeing 777-8s
  • 50 Boeing 777-9s

Rendering of Qatar Airways 777-9

The plan is for the 777Xs to replace the previous generation 777s, though there will obviously be some lag. Qatar Airways will likely be taking delivery of the 777Xs throughout the 2020s, while the current generation 777s will be retired by 2024.

Qatar Airways describes this as a move towards a greener fleet.

Qatar Airways plans new 777-9 first class

Currently Qatar Airways’ only long haul aircraft with a first class cabin is the Airbus A380. Al Baker had previously made it clear that the airline wouldn’t offer first class once A380s are retired. The logic? Qsuites is so good that there’s no need for first class.

Well, it looks like Qatar Airways is backtracking on this, at least slightly.

Qatar Airways is planning on introducing a first class product on select Boeing 777-9 jets. According to Al Baker:

  • This would be “a very exclusive first class cabin of just four seats”
  • It would be a “very niche product” aimed at Qatari locals flying to cities like London and Paris
  • This product would be on “just a handful” of Boeing 777-9s, and not available on the entire fleet

Since Qatar Airways has 50 Boeing 777-9s on order, I’d assume that if this does happen, it would be on Qatar’s later 777-9 deliveries, many years from now. That’s because the 777-9s will be replacing the A380s in key markets when they retire.

Personally I wouldn’t read too much into this just yet. This is potentially still many years off, it represents a reversal of Qatar Airways’ previous stance, and it doesn’t even sound like Al Baker views it as a sure bet at this point.

Qatar Airways’ A380 first class

Bottom line

Qatar Airways’ CEO is a big talker, so I wouldn’t assume everything he says is a done deal.

As of now it would appear that Qatar Airways plans to retire all current 777s by 2024. This comes after the airline outfitted these planes with Qsuites, and means that some planes would only be five years old when retired.

Meanwhile Qatar Airways is now reversing course when it comes to 777-9 first class, and the airline is seriously considering offering a small first class cabin on at least a handful of 777-9s flying to London, Paris, etc.

What do you make of these Qatar Airways 777 updates?

  1. The A350 feels like a better fit for Qatar than the old-generation B777. The Airbus offers a higher quality passenger experience, which is ideal for an airline which is marketing itself as selling a premium product (at least in J).

    The existing tiny 1st Class product (on the A380 only) is primarily for high-wealth individuals shuttling to and from London (where Qatar has *massive* investments in property and businesses). They’ll need to offer something similar to replace it when the A380s are retired, which might be sooner than we’d imagined.

    But there’s also politics, with Qatar using its commercial aviation buying power to secure concessions from US or EU governments, depending on its immediate needs.

    A potentially huge Boeing contract serves to focus The Donald’s money-obsessed mind, and weakens his enthusiasm for Qatar’s arch-enemy Saudi Arabia.

    Al Baker is being vague because there’s everything to play for.

  2. agreed, the nice Paul, I’m always glad when it isn’t the super noisy 777. the A350 is so much more pleasant from a passenger perspective. At least when no A380 is around.

    Curious, while I’m at it. I’ve had a YUL-doh-cpt round trip booked with Qatar, for March. Cancelled, of course, got a voucher. Tried to get instead rebooked for December to avoid having to pay any price difference. Used their online option to sort that. Been an open case/ticket since then (ie March). Should I try to ring em?

  3. Well, I’m certainly looking forward to the 777X. I think it will have a great passenger experience especially up front. It’s the right jet for QR and the right jet to replace its 77W fleet

  4. This is perfectly on-brand. They got A350s for days in the current situation, and the 777X will fill in the gaps where necessary. They’ll probably retire the -200LR variant last, else how would they operate flights to California and Auckland?

  5. I just don’t get it!! Their new ones are only one year old(A7-BEX)!! Whilst their older ones (A7-BAA, BAB etc) are over a decade old they are actively refitting with Qsuites. I love Qatar Airways but their decisions just done seem to make sense at all at the moment?!?

  6. Good riddance to the 777; the A350s are so much more comfortable and quiet. Let’s hope the 777Xs are going to be just as quiet as the A350s, but I heard that they have even less insulation!

  7. Ben, come on!
    Use your spare money you have amassed over the years and buy Delta’s 777 and Qatar’s 777 for cheap to start your own airline.

  8. Oh My God. What is Qatar even up to? Call me a weirdo, but QR is starting to sound as hilarious as Global Ghana or WOWAir Cargo or something. I get it QR, you love to keep your planes fresh and new. But they are gonna use it for just 5 years?!?! Oh, Even their A380s served the airline for 10 years. No airline has ever failed with the 777s (when using the hub-and-spoke system). And if that’s the case, they just spent hella lotta money on revamping their J Class. They could’ve spent that money on acquiring new aircraft or revamping their ‘old’ A350s. And well, where the hell did First Class come from?! I honestly can’t say if they can even come up with a good First Class product since First Class isn’t really their game (But it’s Qatar, anything could happen lol). And I get that point as well, they gotta keep up AlSafwa lounge opened up after 2028 (when their last A380 gets retired ofc). If that’s the case, I wouldn’t be surprised if they are introducing their Premium Economy QSeats product lol.

    No offence but they seem to have no long-term strategies and that could potentially topple them off their business. QR is just an amazing airline and I love their premium product but then the fact that they have no fixed stance is really concerning.

  9. Fun fact: Qatar Airways is currently the biggest airline in the world, transporting more passengers than the 4 following airlines combined.
    As Akbar Al Baker has decided to get everyone back home instead of grounding the whole fleet, Qatar is showwing off how to be passenger friendly.

  10. Well, Qatar Airways never planned to install any first class in the A380 initially. And it wasn‘t AAB‘s choice to do so. But they were basically told by their owners/government that a first class is expected for certain Qatari passengers (i.e. everyone who isn‘t high enough up in the royal family to simply use the executive fleet, as e.g. some ministers etc.). That also explains why the first class cabin on the A380 is nothing to write home about – compared to what you would expect from them or comparing with their direct rivals in the region.

  11. People can’t you see through all the crap Akbar Al Baker is doing to get attention?

    777 is a great place and QR will fly 77W for 10 more years.

    Come back and read this in 2030.

  12. Any word on the A330s? They’re supposed to be retired shortly but I’m still booked on one next April from SEZ.

  13. @Udo Hello Yes, I had the same issue as you with a 75 day wait period. If you are a Privilege Club member, call their support line and ask to be put on the Priority refund list. They will then process your refund within 48 hours. If you’re not a privilege club member, just call the normal line and I’m sure everything will be fine. Good luck

  14. Mark5. A Qatari local is exactly what it sounds like a Qatari born national and not an expat. Most Gulf countries have fewer locals than all the expats that make up the country.

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