Sam Chui recently sat down with H.E. Akbar Al Baker, the CEO of Qatar Airways. The interview touched on many topics, but discussion on the future of the A380 caught my attention. Al Baker is clear: he sees no future for the A380.
Qatar Airways CEO Dooms A380
Chui asked about the future of the A380 and whether Qatar Airways intended to resume its own A380 service. Al Baker responded:
Frankly, we have already taken impairment on five of them; so we are writing off five of the 10 we have. If the pandemic continues to extend over the next 2-3 year period, we will be forced to take impairment on the remaining five.
There is no future for the A380. It was the wrong aeroplane at the wrong time. It is something that passengers love, many liked to travel on the A380. It’s very quite and it’s very spacious, but at the end of the day, for the operator, it’s really painful to keep them in the skies.
The operating costs are punishing and so are the maintenance costs, an A380 at C check is three times the cost of that of a B777 or an A350-1000.
If you look at the fuel burn per seat mile, It’s way above that of any other airplane that is flying today; and you know, it is the aim of Qatar Airways to keep on growing and become carbon neutral with that growth, that airplane just doesn’t help us in that respect.
I not only think the A380 is an inefficient aircraft, but some people are still bragging that they’re going to start operating it and that it’s going to be a very profitable airplane. Let’s see how long they will be able to sustain that after the pandemic. When there is a huge movement on the green front, passengers will not want to get into an airplane that has a high pollution rating.
— Sam Chui (@SamChuiPhotos) April 14, 2021
- It is unlikely Qatar Airways will bring back its five remaining A380s into service
- With C checks approaching, this goes beyond mere passenger demands
- Al Baker believes environmentally-conscious passengers will not tolerate the A380
- Consequently, no airline will find the A380 profitable to operate.
On that last point, I think Al Baker misses the economy of scales argument. There’s a huge difference between Qatar Airways operating a fleet of five A380s and Emirates operating a fleet of over 100. Furthermore, passengers still do love the A380 and I believe airline demand will return quicker than forecast…it is simply a matter of borders re-opening.
While I think it is unlikely that Qatar Airways will bring back its A380s into service, I do see a future for the A380 at Emirates, Qantas, and Singapore Airlines. Al Baker overstates green concerns and undervalues how much consumers actually love this aircraft.
What do you think about the future of the A380 at Qatar Airways and in general?
> Read More: Qatar Airways A380 First Class Review