Why Was Airbus Formed To Build The A300?

Airbus was formed on 18th December 1970 by a pair of European aerospace firms backed by France, Germany, and the UK. The new manufacturer long had plans for a new widebody aircraft, known as the A300. So why did making a new aircraft require the formation of Airbus?

The A300 made its first flight in 1972, marking the beginning of Airbus’s successful aircraft line. Photo: Getty Images


Airbus was formed as a direct response to the dominance of US aerospace firms in the post-World War 2 commercial aviation space. Companies like Boeing, Lockheed Martin, and McDonnell Douglas were leading in terms of sales and new aircraft types, with European firms lagging behind.

However, a few European countries decided that it would be best to merge their major manufacturers into one. Given the formation of the European Economic Community (the EU’s predecessor), a merger was feasible and a good way to ensure the continent had its own robust aviation ecosystem.

A300 Henri Zeigler
Henri Ziegler was one of the founders of Airbus and served as the firm’s first President. Photo: Getty Images

The deal between France, Germany, and the UK saw the formation of Airbus, created by merging Aérospatiale and Deutsche Airbus in 1970. However, the A300 has its roots a few years even before this.

political project

Even before the negotiations to form a joint European firm was complete, the ministers from the three major countries were working on making a new aircraft. In particular, Germany, France, and the UK identified a market for a twin-engine, widebody aircraft, seating around 250.

In September 1967, the trio agreed to collaborate on such an aircraft, which came to be known as the A300 program. Henri Zeigler was the general manager of the program, while Roger Béteille led technical development. The pair went on to become the founding fathers of Airbus a few years later. In 1969, the A300 was formally unveiled by France and Germany.

Airbus A300
Air France was an early adopter of the A300, not surprising given the politics before the plane’s formation. Photo: Getty Images

After months of working on the project, it became clear that bringing together the European firms was the most cost-effective way to develop the A300 and compete with US giants. However, convincing all three nations was not easy. The UK government withdrew in 1969 due to a fear of huge losses, while France threatened to pull out due to their largest share of investment.

Came together

Despite all the political tensions, France and Germany decided to form ‘Airbus,’ with each country’s firm owning 50% of the company. The flagship program for the new company was the A300, a widebody aircraft that was set to be one of the technologically advanced in the world.

UPS A300-600
A300 is still in operation today with a few carriers and by scores of cargo operators as the A300-600. Photo: Airbus

The A300 was set to be a ground-breaking aircraft and had new features such as composite materials. From then, the rest is history, with Airbus going on to become of the world’s largest jet makers.

What do you think about the A300 program’s history? Let us know in the comments!

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Tata’s Air India’s Acquisition Approved: What Now For India’s Flag Carrier?

The Competition Commission of India has approved Tata’s acquisition of Air India, AI Express, and AI-SATS Airport Services. The process began a couple of months ago with the Tatas winning the bid and is now very close to being completed. The Tata Group has until January 23, 2022, to take complete control of the airline and start flying it as a private entity under their brand.

The Competition Commission of India (CCI) has approved Tata’s acquisition of Air India. Photo: Getty Images

Countdown begins

Following the signing of the sale-purchase agreement on October 25, the process for getting clearances from regulatory agencies was underway. Now that the CCI has given the go-ahead, others such as the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), lenders, and third-party vendors will likely give a green signal pretty soon.

Once all the requirements are met, and the previous and new owners are happy with the balance sheet, the Tatas will pay ₹2,700 crores ($355mn) upfront to the government, as decided, and take ownership of the carrier.

What next?

Before the acquisition, the Tatas would most probably want to settle the ongoing wage issues of AI’s current employees. One of the first things the new owners would do is ensure that AI operations are kept running and even improved.

The Tatas have established a new subsidiary to handle the Air India deal, known as Talace, which is in talks with banks to secure a one-year loan to the tune of ₹23,000 crores ($3.02bn). While most of it will go towards purchasing Air India, some of it will be used for the carrier’s operational costs.

Tata’s Air India’s Acquisition Approved: What Now For India’s Flag Carrier?
The Tatas are expected to bring about many changes within the airline, including management and fleet optimization. Photo: Getty Images

Changes in the management team and working culture of the airline are all on the cards, and the Tatas have come up with a 100-day plan to improve the airline’s services, such as on-time performances, addressing customer grievances, and just raising the overall basic service standards. While it’s impossible to dust off years of malpractices in just 100 days, the Tatas will hope to bring about some improvement and set the tone for things to come.

Then there’s the big question about the merger. While there are plans to merge AirAsia India and AI Express, there’s been no official announcement about Vistara and Air India. Will the new owners eventually combine all airlines under the Tata umbrella to form one carrier or operate two separate entities – one full service (AI and Vistara) and its low-cost arm (AI Express and AirAsia India)? At the moment, the second option seems more plausible.

Fleet and network

Another key issue, and a pressing one, facing the Tatas is fleet and network optimization. They’ll have to take a call about Air India’s grounded planes and how to turn around the poor conditions of the interiors of many of its aircraft.

A little over 80% of AI’s fleet is functional. This means that many planes are sitting on the ground, gathering dust and not bringing in any money. Refurbishment alone would cost millions, with up to $300,000 per widebody aircraft. Many of its planes from the A320 family are also awaiting new engines, the costs of which are expected to run into hundreds of millions.

The Tatas may not be ready to foot such expensive bills to get all the old planes flying again. Instead, we could see fresh aircraft orders, both from Airbus and Boeing.

Tata’s Air India’s Acquisition Approved: What Now For India’s Flag Carrier?
Many of AI’s planes need new engines and maintenance, something that will cost the Tata Group millions. Photo: Getty Images

In the long run, a private Air India will have to up its game in network expansion, not just in India but also internationally. There’s a huge demand for direct non-stop flights after the pandemic, but AI has to add more destinations in the future to compete with foreign carriers.

AI currently flies to five airports in the US and eight in Europe; Emirates flies to 15 in the US and more than 40 in Europe. While the two airlines have very different structures, AI will have to think about expanding its fleet and network eventually, which will again cost billions to the Tatas in long-term investments.

How excited are you to see Air India acquired by the Tata Group? What expectations do you have from future AI operations? Please comment below.


Russia’s First Widebody: 45 Years Of The Ilyushin Il-86

Passenger airplanes made during the Soviet era saw various phases of development. While the initial ones looked more like troop transport carriers, subsequent airframes down the decades began resembling more and more like the ones produced in the west. Then in the late 1970s, the Soviet civil aviation landscape witnessed another transition with its very own widebody airliner, the Ilyushin Il-86.

The Ilyushin Il-86 holds the distinction of being the USSR’s first widebody aircraft. Photo: Dmitriy Pichugin via Wikimedia Commons


The idea for a USSR-built widebody airplane emerged sometime in the mid-1960s. Given the global political climate of the time, the need for a bigger aircraft was partly Soviet Union’s response to the emerging larger jets in the west, but primarily to serve the actual growing number of air passengers.

Until the 1960s, the biggest airplanes at the time could carry a maximum of around 200 passengers. The world needed larger planes, with both Boeing and Airbus committing to such projects. The USSR also felt the need to produce an equivalent of the B747 and A300, which were in the making, to cater to approximately 100 million passengers a year within a decade.

Some early proposals envisioned giant adaptations of military aircraft such as the An-22 with passenger capacity of 600+. However, by the late 1960s, it became increasingly clear that an airplane with smaller proportions but still large enough to carry 250+ passengers was more practical.

Russia’s First Widebody: 45 Years Of The Ilyushin Il-86
The Ilyushin Il-86 traces its origins to the growing passenger need for a larger airplane in the 60s and 70s. Photo: Dejan Milinković via Wikimedia Commons

Development and commercial service

In 1969, Ilyushin started looking at its existing and popular Il-62 for inspiration, initially planning to modify it with a longer fuselage. Some other suggestions made at the time included double-decks and even conjoined double fuselages.

The following year, all modification plans of previous airplanes were scrapped, and a fresh aircraft design was proposed under the Il-86 designation. Sticking to the widebody theme, the new aircraft had twin-aisles and a 3-3-3 seat layout, comfortably accommodating more than 320 passengers. The size of its fuselage width from inside was behind only the Boeing 747 at the time.

The service entry of the Il-86 was initially planned to coincide with the 1980 Moscow Summer Olympics. However, much of that year went into completing the final tests and certification, and the airplane first flew on December 26th, 1980, missing the Olympics by a few months.

Russia’s First Widebody: 45 Years Of The Ilyushin Il-86
Only the military versions of the airplane, the Il-86VKP variants, remain in active service today. Photo: Dmitry Terekhov via Wikimedia Commons

Where is it now?

The Ilyushin Il-86 wasn’t quite as popular as the USSR had hoped for. A total of 106 examples were produced until 1991, of which most were put in use for the USSR’s civil aviation requirements. The airplane did not find much popularity outside the Soviet Union, with China Xinjiang Airlines being the only foreign carrier to order brand new Il-86s, with three in its fleet.

While no passenger version of the Il-86 remains in service today, there are four active military variants of the aircraft, according to ch-aviation. These modified airplanes are the Il-86VKP variants and are currently in service for the Russian Air Force.

Have you ever seen some of the older Soviet-era airplanes? What do you feel about USSR’s aviation development back in the day? Do share your comments below.

Did you miss our previous article…


What Happened To British Airtours?

Anyone flying out of or into London Gatwick or Manchester during the 1970s and 1980s may remember British Airtours. This was a charter airline operating Boeing 707, 737, 747, and Lockheed L-1011 Tristar aircraft. The brand existed until 1988 when it became Caledonian Airways. Part of it lived on into Thomas Cook Airlines until 2019.

British Airtours was a major operator of the Lockheed L-1011 Tristar. Photo: Rob Hodgkins via Wikimedia

Starting as BEA Airtours

British Airtours started life as BEA Airtours, a charter subsidiary of British European Airways (BEA), in 1969.

The airline offered a way for the government-owned BEA to expand in the growing charter and inclusive tour market. BEA offered scheduled flights, and BEA Airtours offered charter holiday flights. It started service out of Gatwick airport, using a fleet of de Havilland Comet aircraft. These were switched for Boeing 707s in 1971.

The airline was short-lived, as BEA merged with BOAC in 1974 to form British Airways. At this time, the airline was renamed British Airtours and became a wholly-owned subsidiary of the new British Airways.

BEA 707
BEA Airtours started with the Boeing 707, which became British Airtours. Photo: Steve Fitzgerald via Wikimedia

subsidiary of British Airways

At the time it became British Airtours in 1974, it operated a fleet of nine Boeing 707 aircraft. Under British Airways, these were later replaced by new 737-200 aircraft (ordered alongside aircraft for the main airline).

It also introduced one new Boeing 747-200 aircraft in 1984. This replaced the last of the Boeing 707s on the airline’s North American routes. These routes, known as Advance Booking Charters (ABC), had started in the mid-1970s as a way to meet demand on US routes not met by schedule airline options.

British Airtours 747
British Airtours owned one 747-200. Photo: Tim Rees via Wikimedia

Fleet expansion and variation continued under British Airways, with a move away from Boeing to Lockheed. The larger Lockheed L-1011 Tristar was introduced in 1981 and operated alongside the Boeing 737, flying to the more popular destinations with higher capacity. It went on to operate 32 Tristars in total – its most operated type, with the Boeing 737 coming next at 29 (data obtained from AeroTransport Data Bank,

Becoming Caledonian Airways

British Airways merged with British Caledonian in 1988. At this time, British Airtours was renamed as Caledonian Airways. It continued to operate as a charter airline and continued the brand of Caledonian, with a modified Caledonian Airways livery with elements from the British Airways’ Landor livery.

Caledonian Airways 737
Caledonian Airways took on the 737s initially. Photo: Ken Fielding via Wikimedia

Fleetwise, it replaced the 737s over time (they moved to British Airways) with further L-1011 Tristar and Boeing 757 aircraft. It also introduced the DC-10 and the Airbus A320.

Caledonian Airways continued until 1995, when British Airways decided to move out of the charter market. It was then sold to the UK tour operator Inspirations.

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Eventually merging into Thomas Cook Airlines

Inspiration continued to operate charter flights from the UK, under the Caledonian brand, as well as Peach Air (which operator flights for the tour operator Goldcrest). It kept the Tristar fleet, but the 757s moved to British Airways,

Inspiration was part of the Carlson Leisure Group. This merged with Thomas Cook in 1999, with the Thomas Cook brand being retained. Thomas Cook’s airline Flying Colours and Inspiration’s airlines were merged to form JMC Air. This was rebranded as Thomas Cook Airlines in 2003.

What Happened To British Airtours?
British Airtours eventually ended up as part of Thomas Cook Airlines. Photo: Getty Images

Under Thomas Cook Airlines, the fleet, destinations, and UK operating bases were significantly expanded. But some of the legacies of British Airtours remained. This continued, of course, until 2019, when the Thomas Cook Group declared bankruptcy and the airline ceased operations.

British Airtours was a significant UK operator until the brand was lost in the 1980s. Do you have any experiences working or traveling with the airline? Let us know more in the comments. 


Qatar Airways Issues A350 Legal Proceedings Against Airbus At London High Court

On December 20th, Qatar Airways announced that it had issued legal proceedings against Airbus in the Technology and Construction division of the High Court in London. The airline said that this action was a result of a failure to reach a constructive solution in relation to its “accelerated surface degradation condition,” on its Airbus A350 aircraft.

Qatar Airways has been the only airline to be publicly vocal about its issues, despite other airlines reportedly experiencing paint issues themselves. Photo: Getty Images

“We have sadly failed in all our attempts to reach a constructive solution with Airbus in relation to the accelerated surface degradation condition adversely impacting the Airbus A350 aircraft. Qatar Airways has therefore been left with no alternative but to seek a rapid resolution of this dispute via the courts.” -Qatar Airways

Going to the legal system

The ongoing surface degradation issue continues with the latest move coming from Qatar Airways. This comes just 11 days after Airbus said that it was seeking an “independent legal assessment” due to an unnamed customer attempting to “misrepresent this specific topic as an airworthiness issue.” While Airbus’ legal assessment announcement never explicitly named Qatar Airways, it’s reasonably clear that the Middle Eastern airline is the carrier at the center of this situation.

Responding to Qatar Airways’ announcement, Airbus issued a statement of its own, confirming that it had received a formal legal claim in the English courts filed by Qatar Airways, “relating to the dispute over the degradation of surface and paint on certain of Qatar Airways’ A350XWB aircraft,” adding:

“Airbus is in the process of analyzing the contents of the claim. Airbus intends to vigorously defend its position.”

Qatar Airways Issues Legal Proceedings Against Airbus in The Technology and Construction Division of The High Court in London.


— Qatar Airways (@qatarairways) December 20, 2021

Qatar Airways now has a total of 21 A350 aircraft grounded by the condition. The airline says these legal proceedings “have been commenced to ensure that Airbus will now address our legitimate concerns without further delay.” The airline goes on to say,

“We strongly believe that Airbus must undertake a thorough investigation of this condition to conclusively establish its full root cause. Without a proper understanding of the root cause of the condition, it is not possible for Qatar Airways to establish whether any proposed repair solution will rectify the underlying condition.”

Two sides to the story

Over the past year, we have been tracking this story, first reporting on issues experienced by Qatar Airways in January. While Qatar Airways and its CEO remained tight-lipped on specific problems early in this saga, details were eventually provided- particularly at the point when Qatar’s Civil Aviation Authority grounded an initial 13 A350s due to these surface degradation problems.

With Qatar’s civil aviation regulator stepping in to ground the aircraft (now at 21 A350s), it should indicate that the situation is fairly serious. At the same time, however, European regulator EASA stated in August that it was not intending to take any action on the issue- noting that the issue did not affect the aircraft’s structure or introduce any other risks. This is a position that it has held ever since.

Sideline-skeptics on both sides might claim favoritism or bias between aviation regulators and their respective homegrown organizations, although it is difficult to determine at this point just how much of a legitimate safety concern it is, in terms of public information available.

Costly Airbus A350 paint flaw goes wider than the Gulf

— Jamie Freed (@Jamie_Freed) November 29, 2021

Other airlines remain silent

This entire issue is quite a mystery as Qatar Airways has been the only airline to go public about this problem. Nearly 450 Airbus A350s have been delivered to airlines around the world at this point.

While other airlines have not gone public with problems, it doesn’t mean that no related issues have been experienced. An investigation by Reuters revealed that other carriers have also complained about the deterioration of the painted surface on the A350.

Indeed, the publication named Finnair, Cathay Pacific, Etihad, Lufthansa, and Air France (on behalf of Air Caraibes) as all raising concerns about the issue. According to the investigation, Finnair, Cathay, and Lufthansa have all cited some ‘cosmetic damage’ on their A350s. However, these concerns were only voiced in a private maintenance message board used by Airbus and A350 operators.

Just hours prior to Qatar Airways’ announcement, Simple Flying had published an 11-minute recap of the entire situation, which can be seen in the embedded video below:

Ultimately, with this issue officially moving into the court system, the public should get to see the problem in greater detail. We would expect a great deal of evidence to be presented, with technical experts on both sides being called upon to weigh in on the seriousness of Qatar Airways’ problems and if these issues do indeed pose a risk to flight safety.

How do you think this saga will unfold? Share your opinions with us by leaving a comment.


Jet Airways Seeks Debt Settlement Ahead Of Planned Flight Relaunch

The new owners of Jet Airways want to restart operations early next year and have approached the relevant authorities, requesting to fast-track the debt settlement process. In order to commence domestic operations, the Kalrock-Jalan consortium wants to start clearing the payments due to various stakeholders, including ex-employees and ticket claimants, and complete other formalities ahead of flight relaunch.

Jet Airways’ new owners want to start the resolution process immediately. Photo: Getty Images

Early restart in 2022

In June, the National Companies Law Tribunal (NCLT) approved the insolvency resolution plan of Jet Airways, allowing the carrier to restart its revival process. Saddled with heavy debt, the consortium plans to gradually pay off creditors over the next few years.

The carrier has approached the NCLT again and, in its latest filing, has informed December 22, 2021, as the “effective date” when they want to start implementing the plan, which was approved back in June.

The consortium wants to infuse funds into the carrier to start the resolution process in order to commence operations without any further delay. Murari Lal Jalan, lead member of the consortium and proposed promoter and Non-Executive Chairman of Jet Airways said,

“The Consortium is ready with its investments and given the progress the team has made operationally since NCLT Approval in June 2021, we feel it is time to fund the company immediately for the revival of the business, without delay. We are aiming to start Domestic Operations at the earliest in 2022 as a Full-Service Carrier and look forward to creating history with Jet Airways revival.”

Jet Airways Boeing 777
The team at Jet wants to restart operations early next year. Photo: Getty Images

OC being revived; slots being discussed

The Jet Airways team is hopeful of clearing all other hurdles in time for an early 2022 relaunch. One of the first things that Jet needs is a valid Air Operator Certificate (AOC). The company has been working for months to get the certificate revalidated and thinks that the process should be completed soon.

Jalan pointed out that Jet is not applying for a fresh AOC but instead reviving the carrier’s existing AOC, which is valid until 2023 and was suspended in 2019 due to the company’s financial woes. He feels the time taken to remove the suspension will be substantially less compared to applying for a new one.

Then there are the slots. Jet commanded a substantial hold on airport slots in the country at the peak of its operations, but that has since changed. The airline faced a setback this year when India’s aviation regulator, the DGCA, declined its request to reclaim old slots, which have since been redistributed to other airlines. But the consortium is currently engaged in several discussions with key airports and is hopeful of getting the required slots before the summer schedule next year.

jet airways
People at Jet are busy getting the AOC revived and reclaiming important airport slots ahead of the relaunch. Getty Images

Modest fleet to begin with

As previously reported, Jet is looking to add 100+ narrowbody aircraft in the next five years, but for immediate operations, it will start with a modest fleet of six planes.

For its larger restructuring program, the Jalan-Kalrock Consortium is in conversation with both Boeing and Airbus for an order of at least 100 narrowbodies, which is said to have a budget of around $12 billion.

Many believe the potential order to go in favor of Boeing’s MAX series, given its keen interest to re-establish itself in India’s narrowbody market and offering lucrative discounts to edge out Airbus. A strong 737 fleet would mirror Jet’s first outing, which relied mainly on the Boeing narrowbody for the bulk of its domestic operations. An A320 carrying Jet’s livery would be quite a departure from how people have been used to seeing Jet Airways.

Regardless, an official announcement about an aircraft order is likely to happen sometime next year. For now, all eyes are on Jet’s initial performance as it sets out to relaunch flight operations in one of the most tumultuous eras in Indian aviation.


Rex Begins Boeing Flights To Brisbane

Australia’s Regional Express (Rex) closed the missing link in its golden triangle ambitions on Monday, commencing flights on the Sydney – Brisbane sector. The first flight on the route sees Rex meet its previous promise of running jet services on the three lucrative triangle routes in Australia’s southeast.

Regional Express has commenced flights to Brisbane from Sydney and Melbourne. Photo: Regional Express

ZL352 pushed back at 15:15 Sydney time on Monday for the 468 mile (754 kilometer) hop north to the Queensland capital of Brisbane. Monday’s flight follows flights starting on the Melbourne – Brisbane city pair last Friday. Rex commenced flying on the third triangle route, Sydney – Melbourne, in March.

“Despite the obvious difficulties, I am extremely proud of what we have been able to achieve. It’s
always nice to prove the sceptics wrong, and the big plans we have for 2022 means next year
promises to be even more exciting,” said Rex’s Deputy Chairman, John Sharp.

How good’s a bargain 737 lease deal?

Rex is running two return services a day between Sydney and Brisbane (except for Saturday when a single daily return operates). Double daily return flights operate between Melbourne and Brisbane on Mondays and Tuesdays, with daily services across the rest of the week.

Rex’s frequency is constrained by the number of jets it has – just six. However, the airline plans to ramp up operations (and launch new routes) as more 737-800s land next year.

“There’s never been a better time in our memory to expand into the domestic jet service business,” Mr Sharp told a recent CAPA Asia-Pacific Aviation Summit when discussing Rex’s decision to branch out into jet operations last year.

“Almost overnight, there were thousands of aircraft that were readily available. There were lessors who own those aircraft, who were distressed, and who would be happy to accept any price for a lease payment on one of their aircraft that was pushed up against a fence. So we have really good lease rates.”

How good? Rex is rumored to have picked up each of their six former Virgin Australia Boeings at the bargain rate of AU$60,000 (US$42,700) per month for the first 12 months of their leases (the first of Rex’s jets are just coming up to their first birthday at the airline).

Passengers board Rex’s first Brisbane-bound Boeing 737 service. Photo: Regional Express

Rex’s jets return to the Gold Coast

It’s not just cut-price lease rates that encouraged Rex to seal the deal. An abundance of freshly retrenched airline industry employees on the market made it easy to pick up the necessary skilled employees.

“There were thousands and thousands of highly skilled qualified people that we could draw upon to grow our business. And so we decided to do that last year,” added Rex’s Deputy Chairman.

In addition to commencing Brisbane flights over the last few days, Rex has returned to the Gold Coast, resuming flights from Sydney and Melbourne on Friday. These two routes are normally among Australia’s top ten domestic routes, carrying around five million travelers annually.

Rex’s John Sharp (left) in Brisbane on Friday. Photo: Regional Express

Last week, Queensland reopened its borders to fully vaccinated travelers and stranded Queenslanders down in the southern states. Since then, flights out of the south have returned to Brisbane and Gold Coast Airports.

Brisbane Airport’s CEO Gert-Jan de Graaff says Rex’s jets landing there was a “clear demonstration” that airlines and their passengers have the confidence to return to Australia’s third-largest state.

Did you miss our previous article…


Qatar Airways’ Airbus A380 Return: Where Are They Flying?

An unexpected twist in the second half of 2021, middle-eastern carrier Qatar Airways announced that it would be reactivating part of its Airbus A380 fleet. The airline deemed this necessary as a way to meet passenger demand and provide sufficient capacity in the face of some 20 Airbus A350s being grounded due to an ongoing saga over cracking paint. But for those hoping to fly the superjumbo with this particular airline, where might it be found?

Qatar Airways’ CEO was adamant that the A380 was an expensive mistake. At the same time, the jet is providing capacity in the face of issues with other jets in the fleet. Photo: Getty Images

Throughout much of 2021, we were led to believe that Qatar Airways’ A380 fleet would be gone for good. The airline’s CEO was quite vocal about the type’s inefficiency as a result of elevated operating costs and increased carbon emissions.

After noting that the airline would be taking an impairment on all 10 of its A380s at the end of September, there was a significant surprise change of course as it announced the superjumbo would be returning to provide capacity.

tale of two cities

At the moment, Qatar Airways’ Airbus A380 route network is extremely simple, operating two major routes as of December 15th:

Doha-London Heathrow (twice daily)Outbound: QR 0003 and QR 0009Inbound: QR 0004 and QR 0006Doha-Paris Charles de Gaulle (once daily)Outbound: QR 0039Inbound: QR 0040

It should be noted that other aircraft from the Qatar Airways fleet are also flying these routes and include the Boeing 777 and Boeing 787. Should you be lucky enough to be traveling in the near future and are hoping to step aboard the A380, select your flight carefully!

Doha Qatar A380
The airline is deploying the A380s on just two routes at the moment. Photo:

reluctant return

At this time, just four of the airline’s 10 A380s are active in providing these services and are registered as follows:

A7-APG (MSN 193)A7-APH (MSN 197)A7-API (MSN 235)A7-APJ (MSN 254)

These are the four youngest A380s in the fleet, ranging between four and five and a half years of age.

It was made very clear that the decision to reactivate the A380s was made very reluctantly. The move was based on the airline’s ongoing issues with its Airbus A350s, some of which have seen paint cracking issues and surface degradation. This has led Qatar’s civil aviation regulator to ground over 20 of the twinjets (initially this was 13).

Clearly, after the airline’s CEO called the jet its biggest mistake, His Excellency Akbar Al Baker would have preferred to keep the jets grounded. At the same time, he must be a little relieved that they’re still available as they can be reactivated to meet the current level of travel demand. At least aviation enthusiasts and all those who enjoy the spaciousness of the A380 certainly aren’t complaining.

Qatar Airways, Cathay Pacific, Boeing 777
Over 20 of Qatar Airways’ Airbus A350s have now been grounded. Photo: Qatar Airways

Based on what we know, the A380’s continued deployment will largely depend on whether Airbus and Qatar Airways can find a satisfactory solution to the ongoing paint saga. However, in the unfortunate scenario where more A350s be grounded, the airline still has six A380s available for reactivation- in which case maybe more cities will see the quadjet.

Will you be flying on the A380 any time soon? And how long do you think this deployment will last? Let us know by leaving a comment.

Did you miss our previous article…


What Happened To Air India’s L-1011 Trijets?

Several aircraft types have become synonymous with Air India’s international fleet over the years. Back in the 1960s, the Boeing 707 did quite a bit of heavy lifting of the airline’s long-haul routes. Then came the 747s, the A300s, and today, it’s the 777s and 787s that the carrier relies on for most of its international flying.

Air India flew two Lockheed TriStar L-1011 jets in the mid-90s. Photo: Torsten Maiwald via Wikimedia Commons

However, Air India’s fleet has often been peppered with short stints of other widebodies, which quietly entered operations and left just as quietly. One of them was the Lockheed L-1011 TriStar.

Failed attempt

Although the TriStars flew for Air India in the 1990s, the carrier almost made a deal with Lockheed in the early 80s for the three-engine jets. In 1980, Air India had started looking for other options to phase out its older 707s. Boeing 747SP, the TriStar L-1011-500, the DC 10, and the Airbus A300 were all considered, but the TriStar was the front-runner.

According to a 1981 report published by India Today, Air India even issued a letter of intent for the estimated $200 million deal for three L-1011s with the option of purchasing three more. However, the carrier’s decision to put its faith in the TriStar raised quite a few eyebrows at the time.

What Happened To Air India’s L-1011 Trijets?
Air India initially considered the trijet in the early 1980s, but the deal with Lockheed did not materialize. Photo: Felix Goetting via Wikimedia Commons

Lockheed’s TriStar program was already in deep waters by then, with Air Portugal being its last customer in 1979. Lockheed Chairman Roy Anderson himself admitted at the time that a weak market for commercial airliners threatened its TriStar program. Air India also planned to deploy the L-1011s on its Africa routes, which accounted for less than 5% of its international seats. Many saw this as an unwise investment.

Although Lockheed tried padding the deal with an offer to train 30 crew members and position spares at Bombay airport, it did not work out eventually.

Second chance

In the mid-90s, Air India management had a change of heart and decided to give the trijets a shot. In 1995 – 15 years after the first letter of intent – Air India leased two Lockheed L-1011-500s. Both airplanes were some of the last L-1011s ever built.

With registration numbers V2-LEJ and V2-LEK, the airplanes were leased from Caribjet in 1995. During their very short stay with Air India, the trijets flew to some popular destinations in Europe and were often spotted in Frankfurt, London, Paris, and Amsterdam.

The trijets, however, departed quite swiftly from the carrier’s fleet, with the lease ending after a year.

What Happened To Air India’s L-1011 Trijets?
In 1995, Air India leased two L-1011s from Caribjet, which flew for the airline for a very short while. Photo: G B_NZ via Wikimedia Commons

Where are they now?

Before serving Air India, V2-LEK flew for a few airlines, including the Royal Jordanian and TAP-Air Portugal. After its lease expired, it went back to Caribjet and served other airlines over the next few years, including Novair and Air Luxor. According to, the plane now rests on the ocean floor as a diving wreck in Aqaba, Jordan.

V2-LEJ, too, went back to Caribjet and had subsequent stints with Air Transat and GlobeJet. Since 2007, it has been stored in Montreal (YUL).

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Virgin Atlantic Cooks Up A Festive Surprise For Christmas Travelers

With the Christmas holidays fast approaching, Richard Bransons’ Virgin Atlantic has decided to offer passengers special Christmas meals from December 24 until December 26. In a statement released on Friday, December 17, 2021, the Crawley-headquartered airline said it would offer passengers a fun and festive menu to help them get into the spirit of Christmas while cruising at 38,000 feet.

Virgin Atlantic to offer a traditional Christmas dinner on select flights.Photo: Getty Images.

The airline went on to say that it would be rolling out a similar festive menu for passengers traveling over New Year. Traditional in the United Kingdom, roast turkey is the main Christmas Day meal along with stuffing and all the other trimmings. Virgin Atlantic chefs know this and plan to replicate a traditional Christmas Day lunch for all Virgin Atlantic passengers.

Virgin Atlantic to offer passengers mince pies

If you are worried about Turkey causing drowsiness because it is packed with an amino acid nutrient called tryptophan, you don’t have to worry. As well as the roast bird, Virgin Atlantic chefs have developed a cranberry and thyme-crusted salmon fillet. Virgin Atlantic says it will also offer passengers what it calls a mouth-watering millionaire’s chocolate yule log for those of you with a sweet tooth. There will also be a dreamy cheese platter for all savory lovers if sweets aren’t your thing.

Virgin Atlantic catering
Virgin Atlantic Upper-Class Christmas meal. Photo: Virgin Atlantic

Virgin also says, what would Christmas be without mince pies and some lovely Swiss Lindt chocolate. If you are not British, you may be unfamiliar with mince pies. As the name suggests, they are a pastry with a filling made up of a mixture of dried fruits and spices. While mince pies might not be everyone’s cup of tea, they are a must-have at every British Christmas dinner.

New Years Eve champagne on select flights

To celebrate the New Year and prolong the festivities, Virgin Atlantic says it is going all out to see in the New Year in style. Customers on select flights who happen to be airborne when the clock counts down to midnight on New Year’s Eve will be offered a glass of bubbly and a milk chocolate star.

economyclass catering Virgin Atlantic
Economy class Christmas meal. Photo: Virgin Atlantic

In what has been a challenging year for the aviation industry and people as a whole, Virgin Atlantic Holidays says it has seen an increase in demand for vacations at 5-star resorts. Virgin Atlantic also says that after months of travel restrictions that kept families apart, customers are increasing the length of their stays while visiting loved ones overseas.

Virgin Atlantic wants to make it a special experience

When speaking about the upcoming holidays and what Virgin Atlantic has planned, Chief Customer and Operating Officer at Virgin Atlantic, Corneel Koster, said:

“We know customers are so looking forward to their holidays or to be with their loved ones over the festive period, so we are eager to delight our customers from the moment they board our flights this Christmas. Surprising our customers with delicious feasts and treats is our way of creating memories and saying thank you for choosing to travel with Virgin Atlantic.

“Understanding the current challenges, our teams will ensure all customers fly safe and well and are more than ready to celebrate the festive period onboard, as we get our customers to their destinations in style. Many of our customers are flying to reunite with friends and family, so it’s incredibly important to us that we help make this a special experience.”

Will you be flying with Virgin Atlantic over the holidays? If so, please tell us what you are looking forward to the most in the comments.

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