Qatar Airways May Lease British Airways Some Widebody Jets

Filed Under: British Airways, Qatar

Qatar Airways owns a 20% stake in IAG, the parent company of British Airways. Not only are they investors in the company, but they seem to generally have a good relationship with British Airways beyond that.

For example, last year British Airways crews went on strike for an extended period of time, which would have led to a lot of cancelations. British Airways’ solution was to wet lease planes from Qatar Airways. So Qatar Airways loaned them eight of their Airbus A320s. Since this was a wet lease, that means the crews were also from Qatar Airways. Talk about a service upgrade, especially since these A320s had “real” business class seats, while British Airways’ intra-Europe business class simply consists of economy seats with a blocked middle.

As many of you may be aware, there are serious issues with the Rolls Royce Trent 1000 engines being used on some 787s at the moment, which have led to an operational nightmare for some airlines. Not only do some of these engines need inspections and replacements, but we’re also seeing limitations placed on where these planes can fly.

Given that British Airways has 26 Boeing 787s in their fleet, this poses a potentially big issue.

British Airways’ 787

With the potential for several planes to be grounded, it looks like they may have a backup plan. Bloomberg reports that Qatar Airways is potentially willing to lease British Airways some widebody aircraft:

“If we have to help them due to their current predicament we will do our best, even if it means reducing some frequencies from our current network,” Al Baker said in Cardiff Wednesday after Qatar Airways began flights to the Welsh city. The company doesn’t have spare aircraft as such but there are destinations where the timetable may be “excessive,” he added.

Other airlines have been dealing with the 787 engine issues by leasing planes from companies like HiFly, which aren’t exactly configured in an especially luxurious way (unless we’re going to pretend it’s the 90s).

HiFly’s A340 business class

Suffice to say that British Airways passengers would be getting a huge upgrade if Qatar Airways leased planes to them. As much as I’d like these engine issues to not happen, I can’t say that I’d mind flying one of these leased planes! While I think it’s highly unlikely Qatar would lease out any planes with Qsuites, even Qatar’s 777 business class with six seats per row is an upgrade over British Airways’ business class, in my opinion.

Qatar’s old 777 business class

Furthermore, as much as Qatar Airways says they don’t have any spare planes, let’s keep in mind that they’re currently losing a significant amount of money, and if operating efficiently they should have some flexibility in their schedule, given the Gulf blockade.

For now we’ll have to mark this as “developing.”

(Tip of the hat to View from the Wing)

  1. We are approaching nearly one year of this blockade on Qatar and neither side seems to be giving in at all. I have to imagine if Qatar Airways is being run like a real organization they would be under severe financial pressure at this point.

    They can’t fly to or even over so many countries in the region. While Qatar gives probably the best ride from point A to point B, they can’t even get to point B within their own region in most cases. Not only no Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt and UAE but then factor in other popular destinations in the Middle East they won’t fly for political reasons including Israel and then add no more flights for security reasons to places like Syria, Yemen and Northern Iraq and it begins to be a real almost black hole for Qatar through out the region. It’s no wonder they are trying hard to plug their A-320’s into anywhere they actually can land within their range, even if it’s somewhat head-scratching like Mykonos.

    The fact they are NOW contemplating thinning out some of their wide-body aircraft on lease should raise more alarms.

  2. Biggest issue I see with this is that British Airways operates their 787 fleet with economy, premium economy, business class, and the 787-9’s have first class while Qatar Airways does not operate any aircraft with a premium economy and few of their aircraft offer a first class. So I wonder how British Airways will handle this since it will remove certain classes of service from flights already being operated thus causing passengers to be downgraded to a lower class of service. In addition, Qatar Airways 787-8 only have 22 business class seats and 232 economy seats while British Airways on the same aircraft offers 42 business class seats, 25 premium economy, and 154 economy seats so close to 20 business class passengers would need to be downgraded to coach assuming the flight was full which is not a way to keep customers happy.

    So really the only aircraft that might work are the a330-200 and a330-300 that Qatar Airways have that offer 12 first class seats, and 24 business class seats since this capacity would accommodate most of the business class seats offered on the 787-800.

    I do agree however for those lucky enough to experience Qatar Airways business class this would be a huge upgrade but for those downgraded from premium economy and business class due to capacity reductions on the Qatar Airways aircraft it will be a significant downgrade in my opinion.

  3. “even Qatar’s 777 business class with six seats per row is an upgrade over British Airways’ business class, in my opinion.” No sh!t(in the nicest possible way, I’m not mad) Lucky! Going from 8 to 6 seats per row is defenetly an upgrade. You’re going from a premium economy-like density to an acceptable business class density

  4. It would be interesting if Emirates got in the action with some of their 777s they have resting, probably not realistic because Qatar’s stake in IAG but would be an upgrade from 2-4-2 to 2-3-2 in the business class!

  5. @JC

    Qatar’s A330-200 with first class cabin had already been phased out 3 year ago. They reconfigured the plane to 24 seats in JC and 236 seats in EY cabin.

    While their A330-300 had been reconfigured to be 30 seats in JC and 275seats in EY cabin.

  6. That would be awesome! QR aircraft and crew and perhaps a better catering as well as amenities with a BA ticket and crediting to Executive Club with that generous status bonus and it finally a dream coming true!! Please BA if you are doing something good for your FF for the first time in your history..get those QR aircraft in wet lease and all the great advantages I have said earlier…I promise, if you do that I will fly you on revenue as long as it possible for me! You will earn my hard cash and that voluntarily! I would even forget how dreadful it is to fly from LHR..the overcrowded lounges, the unfriendly and arrogant TSA workers…

  7. 6 ( or 4 rev herringbone) across on 777 is not comparable to BA club 1:1 as they are NOT 8 across! The seats don’t occupy the same sq footage horizontally as it is not a straight across row. That would be like comparing 6 across to 4 across rev herringbone and claiming the 4 across to be far less dense – it is not. You would think these bloggers would clarify this misinformation

  8. Can I aske why a configuration such as Emirates business class on the A380 is 2-2-2 but BA business class is 2-4-2 on a 747 for example? They’re essentially the same configuration no?

  9. Well while Emirates are planning on storing, QR are wet leasing their wide bodies. Wise investment.

  10. Why do you continue to say Qatar is losing money? They made a profit last year and they haven’t released their data for this year yet.

  11. Should I be concerned if I’m flying in Qatar on an award ticket in 6 weeks or so? The flight I’m connecting to isn’t daily, so if my daily to connect to it switches frequencies I’m a little screwed.

  12. Honestly, I think I would prefer BA’s business class to the 6-across Qatar business class. Sure, it is a bit awkward, but I really like the privacy of the window seats on BA. Its not like the Qatar soft product would be transferring over too…

  13. @Lucky , HiFly now operates some planes with upgraded business class configurations.
    There are quite a few pictures on their website. Some of these planes with upgraded business class are being wet-leased to TAP Air Portugal at the moment (one A340-500 and a A340-300 from HiFly Malta)

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