Qatar CEO: A380s "will not return for at least a year, maybe never"

Qatar Airways' Airbus A380 superjumbos may be another casualty of the coronavirus.

By David Flynn , May 12 2020
Qatar CEO: A380s

Qatar Airways' flagship Airbus A380s will remain grounded until the second half of 2021 and may never return to the skies, as the Gulf carrier prepares to face the new reality of substantially reduced demand for air travel.

The Doha-based airline will downsize its 200-strong fleet by 25% during the drawn-out recovery period from the worldwide coronavirus pandemic, with the travel industry taking "around two to three years to get back to 2019 levels," airline CEO His Excellency Akbar Al Baker said on Monday.

“I think I would be very surprised if things will happen before 2023/2024," Al Baker reflected.

Al Baker has previously indicated that the airline's ten Airbus A380s would be retired from 2024, but the superjumbos could already have made their last flight.

"Qatar Airways is parking its 10 A380s and they will not return for at least a year, and maybe never," Al Baker said during a media briefing to discuss the airline's plans.

The Sanctuary lounge on Qatar's Airbus A380 upper deck.
The Sanctuary lounge on Qatar's Airbus A380 upper deck.

Qatar Airways took delivery of the first of ten Airbus A380s in September 2014, with a standout feature of the superjumbo being the spacious and stunningly-appointed 'Sanctuary' business class lounge on the upper deck.

They also feature the Oneworld member's only first class product: a set of eight open first class suites, which were arguably eclipsed less than four years later by the launch of the highly-regarded business class Qsuites.

Qatar's first class finale: the open suites of the Airbus A380.
Qatar's first class finale: the open suites of the Airbus A380.

Al Baker later confirmed that the A380s would not be upgraded with the new Qsuites, admitting in June 2019 at the Paris Air Show "we feel that the aircraft does not have very long future in Qatar Airways' fleet. We would think about retiring those aeroplanes on their 10th anniversary, unless something untoward happens and we need them."

Early design work on a modified version of the Qsuite designed to fit into the curved fuselage of the A380's upper deck was fed into the Qsuite 2.0 business class of Qatar Airways' Boeing 787-9 jets which are said to be substantially lighter, have lower partitions, and lack the ability to convert four middle suites into a 'quad'.

Also read: "The A380 is over", declares Emirates president Sir Tim Clark


David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

13 May 2020

Total posts 1

I'm going to dearly miss the Lounge - a lot of fond memories. Vale the Queen of the Skies - sic transit gloria mundi.

OUCH !!! Reality really hurts.


03 May 2013

Total posts 493

A very sad day for ultra long haul. The A380 has been the best thing to happen in aviation from a passenger experience perspective; and on the Qatar A380 is was second to none. I'll go out of my way to fly the A380 if it returns post covid. I still think it has a limited future.


19 Sep 2013

Total posts 160

Darn, I'll also miss the lounge and the quiet and smooth ride on the long trips. Still thought I could hear the 380 thundering out of Perth every night - didn't realise they had changed.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

11 Dec 2016

Total posts 62

I don't understand why Qatar is sending both an A350 and an 777 to Sydney and out of Sydney at the same time together each day now. It would have to be cheaper to send the single A380 instead wouldn't it?

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

01 Mar 2013

Total posts 165

The QR product has always been nice. Of the Middle East Three (ME3) I've preferred QR's Business approach. Of course, the Q Suite made First obsolete. That said, I did enjoy the occasions where I was up the front in First with QR - on this note EK & EY has it over QR in first. But I digress...

QR is a product worth supporting and, alas, the A380 is indeed the Big Bird whose flying days are numbered. Alas.

Jetstar Airways - Qantas Frequent Flyer

24 Aug 2018

Total posts 67

After more than 25 years of OS travel, had booked QR for the very first time with return tickets in J, aiming to start in the first week of May 2020. The Chinese virus stopped all that and more. Trust they, the A 380s will return in late May 2021 for all the QR vouchers and others(!) to be utilised. Gnashing teeth are no substitute for flying

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer - Chairmans Lounge

01 Sep 2011

Total posts 380

If they do away with on board 1st, wonder what they'll do with their 1st lounges at doha and anywhere else.

but if fuel is so cheap, surely they could hedge it at these low prices, which apparently makes the A380 viable. It's seating is only approx 25% more than next size jet down.

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