Qatar Airways has provided some interesting updates regarding their future fleet plans, via an interview that the Gulf Times had with Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al-Baker.
Qatar Airways plans to retire their A330s
Qatar Airways plans to retire all of their Airbus A330s within the next three years, by replacing them entirely with A350s and 787s.
The airline recently phased out A340-600s, so the plan is now to do the same for A330s. At the moment Qatar Airways has a fleet of 25 A330s, including 12 A330-200s and 13 A330-300s.
Qatar Airways’ A330 business class
Qatar Airways’ average fleet age for their A330s is 11 years. That’s pretty young in absolute terms, though Qatar Airways has an especially young fleet, so for them it’s getting quite old.
I am curious what they’ll do with these planes. We know that they’re leasing several of them to Air Italy, as Air Italy will no longer get 787s. So I wonder if the plan is for most of these planes to go to Air Italy, or what.
We also learned a few months ago that Qatar Airways plans to retire their A380s at the ten year mark, meaning they’ll start to retire them in 2024.
Qatar Airways has quite a few wide body planes on order at the moment, including:
- 3 A350-900s
- 35 A350-1000s
- 10 777-8s
- 50 777-9s
- 30 787-9s
While I can appreciate the desire to diversify their fleet a bit, I’ve never quite understood why Qatar Airways chose to operate so many aircraft type. Currently their wide body fleet consists of A330-200s, A330-300s, 777-200LRs, 777-300ERs, 787-8s, A350-900s, A350-1000s, and A380-800s, and they’ll add 787-9s, 777-8s, and 777-9s to the mix.
Qatar Airways will also retire A320s
Qatar Airways also plans to retire their A320s in the coming years (they have 34 in their fleet), instead focusing on the A321.
Qatar Airways’ A320 business class
Qatar Airways has 50 A321 variants on order, including 40 A321neos and 10 A321LRs.
While the airline also has the 737 MAX 8 on order, it seems unlikely they’ll stick to that order. As Al-Baker explains:
“From 2024, our fleet will consist of Boeing 777s and 787s and Airbus A350s and A321s. At that time, there will not be any more Airbus A320s and A319s in our fleet.”
Given the lack of mention of the 737 MAX, Al-Baker being known for being an especially “picky” customer, and the current situation, it just seems unlikely they’ll follow through with that order.
Other interview tidbits
This interview also has some rather odd quotes, like this:
On the “load factor,” al-Baker said, “By the grace of God, we are doing very good now.”
Asked what has brought back the passengers, he said, “People choose to travel…and aeroplanes are the fastest means of travel.”
When referred to the presence of other “global super-connectors” in the Gulf region, al-Baker said, “But people want efficient airport, efficient airline, and good value for money and good service. All these we provide in Qatar.”
There’s nothing terribly surprising here. Qatar Airways has a really varied fleet, and they’re focused on keeping their fleet new. So we’ll see A320s and A330s retired over the coming years. I’m curious what ends up happening with the A330s — will they just “sell” them to Air Italy at a low cost, or where will the remaining ones go?