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Qatar Airways Brings its Airbus A380 Aircraft Back into Operation to Alleviate Fleet Capacity Challenges for the Winter Peak Season

05 November 2021

Recent grounding of 19 Airbus A350 fleet by the regulator due to ongoing issue relating to accelerated surface degradation below the paint has resulted in reluctant decision to return the A380 into service

Continued increase in passenger demand and flight capacity across the global network anticipated over the winter 2021 period

DOHA, Qatar – A Qatar Airways Airbus A380 took to the skies for the first time in more than 18 months earlier this week, positioning the aircraft from Doha International Airport (DIA) to Hamad International Airport (HIA) after the airline reluctantly took the decision to welcome the fleet back into operation due to ongoing capacity shortage.

It is anticipated that at least five of the airline’s 10 A380 aircraft will be brought back into service on a temporary basis over the coming weeks to support fleet capacity on key winter routes, including London Heathrow (LHR) and Paris (CDG), from 15 December 2021.

The national carrier for the State of Qatar is currently facing significant limitations to its fleet capacity as a result of the recent grounding of 19 of its Airbus A350 fleet due to an accelerated surface degradation condition impacting the surface of the aircraft below the paint, as mandated by the Qatar Civil Aviation Authority (QCAA).

The airline also recently re-introduced a number of its A330 fleet following a continued increase in capacity requirements due to the easing of travel restrictions and the upcoming peak winter holiday period, which are anticipated to see a return to pre-COVID levels.

Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive, His Excellency Mr. Akbar Al Baker, said: “The recent grounding of 19 Qatar Airways A350 fleet has left us with no alternative but to temporarily bring some of our A380 fleet back on key winter routes.

“These groundings are due to an ongoing issue relating to the accelerated degradation of the fuselage surface below the paint, which as yet remains an unresolved matter between Qatar Airways and the manufacturer for which the root cause is yet to be understood.

“This difficult decision reflects the gravity of the A350 issue and is intended to be a short-term measure to assist us in balancing our commercial needs. It does not signify a permanent reintroduction of our A380 fleet, which were grounded in favour of more fuel-efficient, twin-engine aircraft at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“One of Qatar Airways’ greatest assets is our highly flexible fleet of diverse aircraft. This means we are not dependent on a specific aircraft type, and enables us to balance our commercial needs with our responsibilities to maintain an environmentally sustainable fleet at all times.

“Looking forward, we remain committed to finding alternative solutions to support customer demand and maintain the highest levels of sustainability and customer experience for our passengers.

“We continue to strongly urge Airbus to prioritize their investigations into the conclusive root cause of the issue affecting the A350 aircraft type, and ensure it proposes a permanent solution at the earliest opportunity to repair the damage and correct the underlying root cause.”

The national carrier of the State of Qatar continues to rebuild its network, which currently stands at over 140 destinations. With more frequencies being added to key hubs, Qatar Airways offers unrivalled connectivity to passengers, making it easy for them to connect to a destination of their choice, seamlessly.

A multiple award-winning airline, Qatar Airways was announced as the ‘Airline of the Year’ by the international air transport rating organisation, Skytrax, in addition to securing five additional awards including ‘World’s Best Business Class’, ‘World’s Best Business Class Airline Lounge’, ‘World’s Best Business Class Airline Seat’, ‘World’s Best Business Class Onboard Catering’ and ‘Best Airline in the Middle East’. The airline continues to stand alone at the top of the industry having won the main prize for an unprecedented sixth time (2011, 2012, 2015, 2017, 2019 and 2021). The airline’s hub, Hamad International Airport (HIA), was also recently recognised as the ‘Best Airport in the World 2021’, ranking at number one in the Skytrax World Airport Awards 2021.

In addition to this, Qatar Airways is the first global airline in the world to achieve the prestigious 5-Star COVID-19 Airline Safety Rating by Skytrax. This follows the success of HIA as the first airport in the Middle East and Asia to be awarded a Skytrax 5-Star COVID-19 Airport Safety Rating. These awards provide assurance to passengers around the world that the airline’s health and safety standards are subject to the highest possible standards of professional, independent scrutiny and assessment. For full details of all the measures that have been implemented on board and at HIA, please visit qatarairways.com/safety.

About Qatar Airways

A multiple award-winning airline, Qatar Airways won the ‘World’s Best Business Class’ for the tenth time at the 2023 World Airline Awards, managed by the international air transport rating organisation, Skytrax. The airline continues to be synonymous with excellence, also taking home, Best Airline in the Middle East, World's Best Business Class Lounge and World's Best Business Class Lounge Dining at the prestigious awards held during the 2023 Paris Air Show. Qatar Airways is an unprecedented seven-time winner of the “World’s Best Airline” voted by Skytrax (2011, 2012, 2015, 2017, 2019, 2021 and 2022). As leaders in industry innovation and digital adoption, Qatar Airways was recently voted the world’s best airline website by World Travel Tech Awards.

Qatar Airways was the first Airline in the Middle East to be certified to the highest level of IATA’s Environmental Assessment (IEnvA) programme, based on recognised environmental management system principles (such as ISO 14001). As an inaugural signatory to the Buckingham Palace Declaration in March 2016, Qatar Airways became the first airline globally to be certified to the industry standard for the prevention of illegal wildlife trafficking in aviation.

Qatar Airways currently flies to nearly 170 destinations worldwide, connecting through its Doha hub, Hamad International Airport, the ‘World’s Best Airport’, as voted by voted by Skytrax in 2021, 2022, and 2024. In 2024, Hamad International Airport also received the ‘Best Airport in the Middle East’ accolade for 10 consecutive years, as well as ‘World’s Best Airport Shopping’ for the second year in a row.

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