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The Qatar Airways CEO doesn’t like the Airbus A380 and had everything gone to plan his airline’s Whale Jets would have never flown in its livery again. Things, however, haven’t been going to plan and that’s why you’ll find a number of Qatar Airways A380s operating at this very moment and that’s why the airline has just confirmed that yet another of its routes route will soon be served by the world’s largest passenger aircraft.
Akbar Al Baker seems to love trashing the A380. He has called the decision to order the aircraft his “biggest mistake” and he has frequently repeated his belief that the A380 is not commercially or environmentally justifiable. In fact, it feels like he spent half the pandemic telling us all how Qatar Airways was the only airline keeping the world connected and the other half telling us how terrible he thinks the A380 is.
Well, Al Baker may dislike the A380 even more than he dislikes US airline CEOs but with his fleet short of long-haul aircraft and with his airline fighting to keep up with demand, it’s the A380 that has been saving the day.
With the Qatar Airways fleet short a significant number of A350s (because Al Baker refused to accept the scheduled deliveries on the grounds that the aircraft were defective), Qatar Airways has been bringing back more and more of its A380s to cover its capacity shortfall.
Currently, you’ll find the Qatar Airways A380s proping up operations on the airline’s routes to London, Paris, Bangkok, and Sydney, and in a couple of months’ time, yet another destination will be getting A380 service – Perth.
As things stand, Perth is being served by a Boeing 777-300ER which comes equipped with the famous Qsuites but as of 6 December, an A380 will be taking over for the rest of the northern hemisphere winter.
This is what the schedule currently looks like:
QR900 DOH 03:20 – 19:20 PER (Daily)
QR901 PER 21:50 – 04:20+1 day DOH (Daily)
Note: It’s not clear where this A380 will be coming from but as the winter season schedule doesn’t show an A380 operating to Paris, it’s possible that this isn’t a case of another aircraft being brought out of storage but simply the case of an aircraft being taken off another route.
On the whole, there are more positives than negatives to this aircraft swap.
On the negative front, the A380 doesn’t have the Qsuite Business Class cabin so premium cabin passengers will have to “make do” with the older style Business Class seat (which I happen to like).
On the positive front, Economy Class passengers will get more room (the A380’s seats are wider and offer more legroom than the seats on the 777), flyers will have the option of booking First Class (the A380 is currently the only aircraft on which Qatar Airways offers First Class), and First and Business Class passengers flying between Doha and Perth will have the option of relaxing in the excellent bar area that the Qatar Airways A380 offers.
The Qsuites are nice (although not as amazing as some would have you think), but being able to spend some time away from your seat in the A380’s bar area is a very nice option to have on a flight of this length, and having to “put up” with the older Business Class seats in order to have that option is no hardship at all.
In fact, I’ve been fortunate enough to have flown in Business Class on the Qatar Airways A380 between Perth and Doha and I’ve been fortunate enough to fly in the Qatar Airways Qsuites on more than one occasion and given the choice, I’d choose to do this route in an A380 every time. From my point of view, this aircraft swap is very good news.
Qatar Airways may be looking forward to the day when it can finally say goodbye to its A380s for the final time but with Perth about to become yet another destination to which the airline operates its Whale Jet, that day doesn’t seem to be around the corner just yet.