While Qatar Airways currently has three daily A380 departures, they’ll fall to two from March 27th, the first day of the aviation summer season. London Heathrow will lose one of its twice-daily services, while Paris CDG will retain its single-daily.
But it’s not necessarily this simple
while it looks like they’re reducing flights, Qatar Airways submitted plans late last year to use the A380 to Manchester this summer. Although it isn’t yet confirmed and might not materialize, the aircraft freed up by not flying to Heathrow could, of course, be used to Manchester instead. The airline has four active A380s (A7-APG/APH/API/APJ), but the flying schedule requires three, so flexibility and capacity are available for maintenance and any problems.
The redeployment makes sense, especially as the peak season approaches, and because Qatar Airways still needs additional capacity given 21 A350s remain grounded. To help make up the shortfall, it brought back its double-decker quadjets, has wet-leased three A330s from Oman Air, and has acquired four ex-Cathay Pacific B777-300ERs. As the A350 situation is unlikely to change soon, it’s reasonable to expect the freed-up aircraft to continue flying.
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Where is Qatar Airways using its A380s?
The A380 is presently used as follows, with the timings based on February 5th. It is QR9 and QR6 that will no longer see the type from March 27th. It is not surprising that this rotation was chosen to be replaced: QR9 is fed by fewer arrivals at Doha, and QR6 feeds fewer departures. The 354-seat B777-300ER will replace the A380.
- Doha to Heathrow: QR9, 01:50-06:20; return: QR6, 08:15-18:05
- Doha to Heathrow: QR3, 07:30-12:00; return: QR4, 14:05-23:50
- Doha to Paris CDG: Q39, 08:15-13:25; return: QR40, 15:20-23:45
When writing, three A380s are operational. Highlighted is QR6, en route from Heathrow to Doha. Today it is using A7-APG, delivered in December 2016. Image: RadarBox.com.
Could Manchester see Qatar’s A380?
Qatar Airways expressed its intention to use the A380 to Manchester. The airport’s summer 2022 Initial Coordination Report by Airport Coordination Limited, which allocates slots there, stated that the carrier will “upgrade lunchtime service from the B777-300ER to the A380.”
There is no guarantee that it will materialize. But if it does, it would be deployed on QR27/QR28, departing Doha at 08:10 and arriving home at 23:50 – mirroring the departures to Heathrow and CDG. It coincides with many inbound/outbound flights at Doha, driving all-important connectivity. Add summer demand, and it’s even more understandable.
In the first week of summer, Qatar Airways has fewer than one in ten A380 departures from Heathrow. Photo: Getty Images.
How will things change?
Between March 27th and April 2nd, the first week of the summer season, Heathrow used to be to have 84 A380 departures, according to Cirium data. The loss of the second-daily reduces that to 77, a fairly minimal, but obviously still negative, impact.
It’d be different at Manchester. It’d join Emirates’ current twice-daily A380 service, which rises to three from July 1st. Manchester would then have four daily A380 flights – more than ever before. But will it happen?
What do you make of the changes? Let us know in the comments.
1 Week To Go: Qatar Airways Prepares For The Airbus A380’s Return
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