Earlier this week Qatar Airways announced that the A320 and A330 will be next to leave their fleet. Now it seems as though Qatar Airways could be looking to emulate the Emirates model of using just a few aircraft types.
Typically, low-cost carriers stick to one aircraft type in order to keep costs down. This is a practice which Ryanair manages extremely well, for example. However, it seems as though full-service carriers are starting to follow suit, something which has many benefits.
Qatar Airways fleet strategy
According to data from Airfleets.net, Qatar Airways currently has eight passenger aircraft types in its fleet. This is set to halve within the next five years. In fact, Qatar Airways’ Akbar Al Baker gave the following comment in an interview with the Gulf Times:
“From 2024, our fleet will consist of Boeing 777s and 787s and Airbus A350s and A321s. At that time, there will not be any more Airbus A320s and A319s in our fleet”
This will be achieved by retiring several aircraft types. We already knew that Qatar was looking to retire the Airbus A380, however, now Qatar Airways will also retire their A330 and A320 aircraft. These aircraft will be accompanied by the carrier’s remaining A319s.
Benefits of fewer types
Having fewer aircraft types in a fleet can come with a number of benefits. These can mostly be financially based, something that is especially important with rising jet fuel costs.
Firstly, cutting the number of aircraft types can make maintenance easier. It’s important to keep an inventory of items that need replacing regularly, such as tires, so they can be quickly replaced. However, operating more types means that more spare parts are required to be held in inventory. This means that a larger amount of the airline’s money is tied up.
Secondly, it is easier to crew aircraft when you have fewer types. Each pilot is assigned one type of aircraft which they regularly fly. If a pilot falls ill at short notice, it can be difficult to replace them. Now, looking at the maths, it would be much easier if one-quarter of the pilots are flying one type, than one-eighth.
Opposite direction to Emirates
Qatar Airways is moving in the opposite direction to Emirates in terms of its fleet plan. Emirates has been known as a two aircraft carrier for a long time, exclusively flying the Airbus A380 and Boeing 777. However, the airline is set to diversify, with orders for Airbus A350s and A330s. Additionally, Emirates is in discussions with Boeing regarding 787-10 aircraft.
While Emirates is looking to diversify its fleet to four or five types, Qatar will be culling its fleet to include just four types.
Do you think Qatar Airways is making the right decision cutting its fleet? Let us know in the comments!