The CEO of Qatar Airways (QR, Doha Hamad International) says the carrier will begin exiting its A380-800s once it starts taking deliveries of A350-1000s from a reinstated order at Airbus.

Speaking to media at the Paris Air Show, CEO Akbar al Baker said the A350-1000s were originally ordered for fleet replacement purposes. In September 2022, amid a bitter dispute over fuselage paint deterioration issues on the type, Airbus axed the remaining order for nineteen A350-1000s.

Preceding that, Qatar Airways had been declining deliveries of A350s, bringing ten of their A380-800s out of retirement to provide a capacity fill-up. This was despite Al Baker being no fan of the plane. In 2021, he described their acquisition as “the biggest mistake” the carrier had ever made.

In early February, Qatar Airways and Airbus settled that dispute and a separate matter concerning A321-200Ns. As part of the settlement, Airbus agreed to reinstate deliveries, albeit later than originally planned. Deliveries of the A350s are now expected to start in 2025.

According to ch-aviation fleets data, Qatar Airways has returned their twenty-one A350-1000s to service. Al Baker told media in Paris this week that as the additional orders are delivered, the A380-800s will be "taken off gradually." He says the airline has taken a full impairment against the A380s, and "eventually, over a period of time, we will ground them again."

Qatar Airways presently deploys the A380-800 to just four destinations - London Heathrow, Perth International, Bangkok Suvarnabhumi, and Sydney Kingsford Smith. Qatar's densely configured A380-800s seat 524 passengers across three cabin classes. In contrast, the smaller A350-1000 seats 327 passengers in two cabin classes. Qatar Airways also has an order for forty B777-9s, which it anticipates beginning delivery of from 2025. When the A380-800s do exit the Qatar Airways fleet, the B777-9s, with a planned two-cabin capacity of approximately 415 passengers, will be the largest passenger aircraft in the carrier's fleet.