Qatar Airways today operates a mixed Airbus and Boeing fleet. For narrowbodies, it only has Airbus aircraft, but widebodies are split roughly equally. This has not always been the case. As the airline has grown, it has seen short periods as an all-Boeing and an all-Airbus operator. This article takes a quick look through all the aircraft types it has operated since its start in 1994.
Several types operated in 2021
As of March 2021, Qatar Airways had 223 aircraft in its fleet. This is made up of (according to planespotters.net data)
- A320 family: 33 aircraft
- A330: 6 A330-200 and 10 A330-200 aircraft (all parked currently)
- A350-900: 34 aircraft
- A350-1000: 19 aircraft
- A380: 10 aircraft (all parked and five confirmed to retire)
- 777: 8 777-200 and 47 777-300ER aircraft
- 787-8: 30 aircraft
- 787-9: 7 aircraft
Looking back, Qatar Airways has operated plenty of other types. With Boeing, it has seen the 727, 747SR, and 747SP. It also leased one 757 for a short period in 1997/1998 and one 767 in 1994. With Airbus, it has also operated the A310 and the A340.
We look in a bit more detail at some of the most significant of these aircraft – past and present.
The first aircraft – A310, 747 and 727
Qatar Airways started service in 1994, using two leased Airbus A310 aircraft. These came from Kuwait Airways and stayed with Qatar until mid-1995.
Fleet expansion started with the 747. Qatar took on two high-capacity 747SR aircraft from Japanese Airline ANA in 1995. It added a further 747SP (the ‘stubby’ shortened version with increased range) in 1996. It also operated the Boeing 727 for some regional services.
Expansion with Airbus A300, A320
The 747s also had a short life with Qatar Airways. They were replaced from 1997 by A300-600 aircraft as Qatar switched from an all-Boeing to an all-Airbus operator. Six more A300s joined the fleet by 2003.
The A320 began service as its new narrowbody option in 1999. The first aircraft were leased, but owned aircraft began arriving in 2009. The A320 family, of course, continues to fill the narrowbody fleet today. There are orders in place to renew the fleet with 40 A321neos and 10 A321LR aircraft from 2022.
The A340 and then the 777
Qatar Airways’ fleet expansion really picked up from 2001. In 2003, it placed a $5.1 billion order with Airbus for more A320 aircraft as well as the A330 and A340. According to reporting by FlightGlobal, the airline had been considering both the Boeing 777 and the A340-600 but decided on the A340 after it passed the airline’s evaluations.
It operated four A340-600 aircraft from the end of 2006 until the retirement of them in 2019. This, of course, worked well alongside the A330 and kept an initial all-Airbus fleet. It soon changed direction, though, and also decided to order the 777. In 2007, it placed a $13.5 billion order with Boeing for 30 787-8 aircraft and 27 777 aircraft. Both these orders have since been increased.
The A350, 787, A380 and 777X
Qatar Airways’ fleet today has added both the A350 and the 787 to its A330, 777, and A380 fleet. It became the largest customer for the A350 when it placed an order for 80 aircraft at the Paris Airshow in 2007. It was the launch customer for the A350-1000 and still has 23 aircraft on order. Likewise, it is still receiving deliveries of the 787, with 23 787-9 aircraft on the way.
Its relationship with the A380 has not been so strong. It grounded the whole fleet of aircraft during the slowdown in 2020, despite the airline remaining one of the most active overall. It has since confirmed that five of these aircraft will not return to service.
Looking forward, it is set to become the second-largest operator of the new Boeing 777X (behind fellow Middle Eastern operator Emirates). It has 60 aircraft on order but is unlikely to take delivery before 2024.
Such a review of aircraft types would not be complete with a quick look at cargo aircraft. Qatar has had several types onboard within its subsidiary Qatar Airways Cargo.
Today it operates two Boeing 747-8 cargo aircraft and 24 777F aircraft. Looking back, it has also operated Airbus freighters. It operated eight A330-200 freighters, retiring the last just at the start of 2021. And it had three A300B4 freighter aircraft – all of these were scrapped in 2013.
This has been a quick review of all the aircraft Qatar Airways has operated. Feel free to discuss these further in the comments.