Qatar Airways has established a relationship with Airbus. What will it give her in 2023?

Qatar Airways has forged a relationship with Airbus. What will it get in 2023?

Qatar Airways has a fleet of over 200 aircraft. However, it is very diverse: a member of the oneworld alliance operates both wide-body and narrow-body aircraft, both Airbus and Boeing. The “smallest” airline liner — Airbus A320, while the largest — A380 Superjumbo. The long-running but now settled dispute with Airbus has had a significant impact on the airline's current and future fleet.

The Qatar Airways fleet currently consists of 236 aircraft, including 28 cargo aircraft flying for Qatar Airways Cargo: 26 Boeing 777Fs and two Boeing 747-8Fs. The remaining 208 passenger seats are distributed as follows:

29 A320-200s;

5 — A330-200;

7 — A330-300;

34 — A350-900;

19 — A350-1000s;

10 — A380;

9 — 777-200;

54 — 777-300ER;

30 — 787-8;

11 — 787-9.

A total of ten different modifications of aircraft of six types — Qatar Airways' passenger fleet is so diverse. Interestingly, the A321-200s that once flew for the airline are no longer part of the — the last two of these stretched narrow-body aircraft were decommissioned between June and December 2022. The airline also retired its last Airbus A319 in June 2020 and February 2021.

Qatar Airways' legal battle with Airbus over the deteriorating surface quality of its A350 aircraft has had a major impact on the airline's current fleet composition. Although the case was recently settled, about two years of fighting resulted in Qatar Airways refusing to accept new Airbus A350s. This eventually led to the cancellation of orders for both the remaining A350s and the A321neo.

In May 2019, Qatar Airways planned to retire its A320 and A330 aircraft. The plan at the time was to phase out these models until 2024. In a 2017 Airbus statement, it was reported that the A321neo was supposed to arrive at the airline as early as 2019, which, however, has not happened yet.

The original plan thus depended on the airline upgrading the fleet aircraft A321neo, A350 and 787. However, due to the stop of their “defective” A350, the airline decided to re-use the dusty A330 fleet in order to maintain the route grid.

And then there's Boeing “helped” by lengthening the pause in 787 deliveries, as a result, the airline only recently began deliveries of new 787–9.

All this significantly increased the age of the airline's aircraft fleet, the A330-m, to For example, an average of 16.5 years. The average age of the fleet is approaching 8.5 years, however, along with Qatar Airways cargo aircraft.

At the same time, Qatar Airways is forced to use a sizable fleet of A320-200s that are over 10 years old. The airline hoped to retire these single-aisle aircraft by now, replacing them with the A321neo.

The airline's abandonment of its A350s resulted in the return of the A380 — of the 10 currently available, only 7 are active, and another one stands as a potential “victim”, ready at any time to be dismantled for spare parts.  

Now Qatar Airways A380s fly from their hub in Doha to the Australian cities of Perth and Sydney, as well as flights to London Heathrow Airport twice a day.

In addition to reopening its own aircraft, Qatar Airways had to look for opportunities to purchase equipment abroad. As a result, the carrier has acquired four Boeing 777-300ers that previously flew under the flag of Cathay Pacific, and two more 777-300ers arrived from Virgin Australia.

“Qatari” entered into an agreement with Oman Air to lease three A330-300s. As part of this deal, Oman Air provided them, along with crews, maintenance and insurance. From Doha, these aircraft mainly serve the cities of Colombo (Sri Lanka), Dhaka (Bangladesh), Tunis, Beirut (Lebanon) and Cairo (Egypt).

At the height of tensions between Airbus and Qatar Airways, the European aircraft manufacturer has canceled outstanding orders for the A350 and the entire order for the A321neo. In retaliation, Qatar Airways placed a significant order with Boeing in January 2022. The airline has committed to acquiring 50 777–8 cargo aircraft and signed a Memorandum of Understanding for 50 737–10 aircraft. A few months later, at the Farnborough Airshow in July, Qatar Airways increased its maximum order by 25 aircraft, with options for another 25 of the type.

As the A321neo deal is being discussed again, the question is what Qatar Airways will do with his Boeing 737 MAX 10 order, because the two types of aircraft are the same size. According to experts, there are several scenarios. 

  1. The airline could keep the Boeing order, which would lead to an increase in the diversity of the aircraft fleet.
  2. It could completely cancel this order and pay any associated penalties.
  3. She may well trade this order for other Boeing products, including other variants of the MAX, 787, 777-8F, or 777–9.

Perhaps the airline has already made up its mind by choosing the latter option, as photos of the Boeing 737 MAX 8 of the Russian airline S7 with a partial Qatar Airways livery have recently surfaced.

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