British Airways is today flying an Airbus A380 to Doha, Qatar. The flight comes as the airline has been moving its aircraft from Chateauroux in France for storage in warmer climates. The British flag carrier last used the giant of the skies to carry passengers in June on a repatriation mission to Johannesburg.
Airlines worldwide have been parking their largest aircraft as passenger levels remain low due to the current global downturn. Some significant airports where airlines are based simply don’t have enough room to store a bunch of double-decker giants. As a result, fleets have been spread to storage sites around the world.
Flying to Doha
At 13:22 today, G-XLED took off from London Heathrow at 13:22. This in itself is not remarkable, as the airline’s A380s have frequently been coming and going from London’s main airport over the last month or so. What was significant about this flight was the destination.
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According to data from FlightRadar24.com, the aircraft is operating flight BA9158, a ferry flight that will take it to Qatar’s capital, Doha. Simple Flying understands that up to two more Airbus A380s will also make the journey to Doha for storage over the winter. The aircraft was routing southeast over France at the time of writing. Data from FlightRadar24.com suggests that the airline is currently avoiding flying over Iraq as it did towards the start of 2020.
British Airways is currently avoiding flying over Iraq, hence the unusual route to Doha. Photo: FlightRadar24.com
Why send the A380s to Doha?
British Airways had been storing its fleet of Airbus A380 aircraft at Chateauroux in France. The airport has been used by the airline in the past for training flights. As summer moved into autumn and then winter, British Airways sought to move the aircraft to a warmer climate. This has seen aircraft flying to sister airline Iberia’s home in Madrid, as well as to the Spanish aircraft graveyard in Teruel.
Storing A380s in Doha also makes sense, except for the long flight to get there. Firstly, being situated in the Middle East, the city has a warm climate, perfect for storing aircraft away from moisture. Additionally, the city has plenty of storage space at its old airport. The airport also has one other advantage.
Qatar 787 & British Airways A380 Getty
Qatar Airways has A380 mechanics who should be able to look after BA’s A380s. Photo: Getty Images
Doha is home to Qatar Airways, which incidentally owns over a quarter of British Airways’ parent company, IAG. Qatar Airways also has Airbus A380s that are based and parked in Doha. This means that A380 qualified mechanics that typically work on Qatar’s A380s should be able to keep British Airways’ A380s up to date on their maintenance. As such, the aircraft could be kept in a flight-ready condition, should the airline wish to reactivate their capacity.