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It may have four engines, it may require special jet bridges and it may not be as efficient as a lot of more modern aircraft but anyone who called time on the A380 once the pandemic shut the travel world down appears to have jumped the gun.
While it’s no surprise to see Emirates still sending its A380s all over the world, it was more than a little surprising to see Qatar Airways backtrack on its A380 retirements and in an example of how the A380 can still do a job that other aircraft cannot, British Airways (another airline that has brought a number of its A380s out of hibernation) will be scheduling one of its A380s to operate between London and Doha for the duration of the FIFA World Cup [HT: Simple Flying]
As thing stand, British Airways offer a single daily service between Gatwick and Doha to complement the flurry of flights that Qatar Airways offers between the two cities.
Between 18 November 2022 and 8 January 2023, however, British Airways will operate a second flight to Doha (from London Heathrow) using an Airbus A380 and this is what its London – Doha schedule will look like during that period:
BA2033 LGW 13:50 – 23:20 DOH (Daily 777 service)
BA123 LHR 21:20 – 07:05+1 day DOH (Daily A380 service)
BA2032 DOH 01:15 – 05:45 LGW (Daily 777 service)
BA122 DOH 15:20 – 19:50 LHR (Daily A380 service)
Interestingly, British Airways hasn’t just conjured up another Heathrow slot out of nowhere. It’s taking over a Qatar Airways slot to help increase capacity on the London – Doha route during a time when demand is expected to exceed all previous levels.
Right now, Qatar Airways is operating a 777-300ER in the slot that the British Airways A380 is taking over and this aircraft offers 42 Business Class seats and 312 Economy Class seats. That’s 354 seats in total.
The A380, on the other hand, will offer 14 First Class seats, 97 Business Class, 55 Premium Economy Class seats, and 303 Economy Class seats to give the aircraft a total of 469 seats.
In the same way as Emirates is using an A380 to increase its capacity to Tokyo by 36.5% without having to add extra flights, British Airways is using an A380 to increase capacity to/from Doha by over 1,600 seats per week and this is exactly the kind of situation in which the A380 really shines.
There are, of course, other things to consider other than just seat numbers when it comes to this aircraft swap.
With the loss of the Qatar Airways 777, the Heathrow – Doha route is losing a Qsuite-equipped aircraft so although the introduction of the BA A380 will see considerably more Business Class seats on offer, it will also see considerably worse Business Class seats on one of its flight pairs.
On a more positive note, the BA A380 offers First Class and Premium Economy cabins (neither of which are offered by the outgoing Qatar Airways 777) and as the space on offer in the Economy Class cabin is essentially the same on both aircraft, passengers booked to travel in the entry-level cabin aren’t losing out because of this aircraft swap.
Between 18 November 2022 and 8 January 2023, British Airways will take over a Qatar Airways slot at Heathrow Airport to offer an A380 service between London and Doha. The A380 is being drafted to help the airlines meet the demand for travel to and from the FIFA World Cup so the schedules will return to normal once that’s over.