Qatar Airways plans to “reluctantly” reintroduce to temporary service five of its 10 grounded Airbus A380s due to what it calls a capacity shortage caused by its grounding of A350s, the company said Friday. Plans call for the airline to install the superjumbos on “key winter routes,” including London Heathrow and Paris Charles de Gaulle airports on December 15. A Qatar Airways A380 took to the skies for the first time in more than 18 months earlier this week, positioning the aircraft from Doha International Airport to Hamad International Airport.
The Qatari national carrier recently grounded 19 of its Airbus A350s due to what it called an accelerated surface degradation condition affecting the surface of the composite aircraft below the paint, as mandated by the Qatar Civil Aviation Authority (QCAA).
Now flying to 140 destinations, 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 Qatar expects to return to pre-Covid levels.
“The recent grounding of 19 [of the] Qatar Airways A350 fleet has left us with no alternative but to temporarily bring some of our A380 fleet back on key winter routes,” said Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker. “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 was grounded in favor of more fuel-efficient, twin-engine aircraft at the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic.”
Al Baker added that the airline continues to “strongly urge” Airbus to prioritize its investigations into the root cause of the issue affecting the A350s and quickly propose a permanent solution to repair the damage.