Qatar Airways (QR, Doha Hamad Int'l) is planning to retain its five A330-200(F)s through at least the end of 2020 or later if demand for cargo remains high, Chief Officer Cargo Guillaume Halleux told The STAT Times.

"A few of our A330-200(F)s that were due to leave the fleet are now being retained to keep up with demand until the crisis eases. The plan was to progressively exit them, but under the current conditions we would like to keep them until the end of this year," Halleux said.

The airline initially planned to retire the five freighters between April and November 2020. The aircraft are just five years old on average and were due to be replaced by B777-Fs. Qatar Airways owns all five of the Airbus freighters, the ch-aviation fleets ownership module shows.

Halleux underlined that the decision to retain the A330-200(F)s does not mean that the deliveries of the B777-F(s) will be slowed down or deferred.

"We will continue to receive our five new B777 freighters that were supposed to replace the A330(F)s," he said.

Qatar Airways already operates and owns twenty-one B777-F(s). It has a further five on order directly from Boeing. According to the original schedule, three of these aircraft should be delivered by the end of 2020 and the other two in 2021. The airline's cargo fleet also includes two B747-8(F)s.

Halleux added that given ample dedicated-freighter capacity available to Qatar Airways, the airline has decided against reconfiguring any of its passenger aircraft into makeshift freighters.

"We have 28 freighters. That is a massive main deck capacity, without being desperate to the point of using the cabin of the passenger flight. I am not saying it is bad. I am saying is it is extremely labour intensive, and it takes a lot of time. I have a faster, quicker and more reliable solution with my freighters and therefore we chose not to do it," he claimed.