Qatar Airways delayed deliveries of four on-order Airbus A380s out of concern about the economics of operating the double-deck type before the recent fuel price decline.

Four A380s – which had been scheduled to join the Gulf carrier's fleet this year and in 2017 – were deferred by a year each, the airline's chief executive Akbar Al Baker said today at the ITB travel fair in Berlin. A delay was agreed with Airbus more than two years ago because Qatar needed to "protect" itself against high fuel costs, he explains.

He adds that the A380 "becomes very efficient when the oil is where it is now".

If the oil price stays at around $60, says Al Baker, there may be "a possibility" of Qatar exercising options for three additional A380s.

However, he sees the oil price reduction as a "double-edged sword" for airlines. Low fuel prices serve as a tailwind for carriers to reduce operating costs but also lead to reduction in premium traffic as companies cut back travel costs, he observes.

Meanwhile, Qatar has notified Airbus when it wants to receive its remaining on-order A380s, and the manufacturer "will now start the process of completion" for these aircraft, he says.

Qatar's next A380 is to be delivered by the end of this year or in early 2017.

Today, the Doha-based Oneworld carrier operates six A380s fitted with Engine Alliance GP7200 powerplants.

Source: Cirium Dashboard