Qatar Airways has announced their retirement plans for their Airbus A330 and A320 fleet in a recent interview with the Gulf Times.

Over the next three years, Qatar Airways plans to retire their entire fleet of Airbus A330s, replacing them with a new, ultra-efficient fleet of A350s and Boeing 787 Dreamliners.

In recent times, Qatar retired their last A340-600, which grabbed the attention of a lot of aviation websites. This news potentially sparked Qatar to detail their future fleet plans.

Airfleets.net shows Qatar Airways operates eight A330-200s, 13 A330-300s and four A330-200 freighters.

Qatar Airways currently has an average fleet age of six years, which isn’t old considering aircraft can comfortably fly for up to 30 years in passenger service, however in order to offer a competitive and financially effective service, a young fleet helps, especially in their location.

It appears Qatar is acting hard to simplify their fleet, with plans to operate just the Airbus A350, A321neo, Boeing 787 Dreamliner and 777. In the interview, CEO of Qatar Airways, Akbar Al Baker, did not mention anything about the upcoming Boeing 777X which they have 50 on order plus 60 options for.

Additionally, earlier this year when Airbus announced the A380 will no longer be produced from 2021, Qatar Airways mentioned they’ll retire the superjumbo in 2024 when they achieve the decade milestone.

Qatar Airways announces retirement plans for Airbus A330s & A320s
Qatar Airways Airbus A380

Moving onto narrobody plans, Qatar will start to retire their entire fleet of Airbus A320s over the next few years, focusing on the larger, more efficient A321neo, which they have 40 on order plus 10 A321LRs.

Al Baker notes that from 2024, there will be zero A319s and A320s in the Qatar Airways fleet.

Looking at delivery figures, we can determine what aircraft Qatar has on order:

Aircraft Number on Order Status
A350-900 3 32 in service
A350-1000 35 6 in service
A321neo/A321LR 50 2019/2020 Deliveries
787-9 30 TBA
777-8 10 TBA
777-9 50 50 options – replace A380
Qatar Airways announces retirement plans for Airbus A330s & A320s
Qatar Airways A350

Talking about load factors, Al Baker had the following statement to share:

“By the grace of God, we are doing very good now.”

The A350-1000 is essentially a replacement for the globally popular Boeing 777-300ER. During the 2018 Farnborough Airshow, Al Baker reflected on Airbus’ proposal of a long range A350-1000 by stating it would be a “very huge competitor for the [777]-300ER”.

The proposed aircraft would feature a greater maximum takeoff weight – more than the current highest of 316t – plus additional fuel capacity, boosting its already impressive range of 15,540km.

Would Qatar Airways need the 777X if the A350 performed the role of the 777? It appears the size of the 777X and its heavy-hauling capabilities is necessary for replacing the A380 on high load factor routes.

Qatar Airways announces retirement plans for Airbus A330s & A320s
Qatar Airways Boeing 777X

All this fleet talk doesn’t mean hundreds of tonnes of metal will end up in the scrapyard just yet. Air Italy – the airline that Qatar Airways has a 49% stake in – had plans to eventually operate a fleet of 30 Boeing 787 Dreamliners, however with the first one to be introduced by March this year, it appears these plans have flown away.

Instead, Qatar plans to send some of their A330s to Air Italy to grow their widebody fleet, as mentioned in an article by Aviation Analyst and One Mile at a Time.

Qatar Airways announces retirement plans for Airbus A330s & A320s
Air Italy Airbus A330

All of these developments show Qatar Airways’ dedication to operating an efficient and comfortable fleet, placing them in a good position against their prime competitor Emirates.

What are your thoughts on Qatar’s fleet plans?


Feature Image by Clement Alloing