MIAMI – As part of a reorganization of its cargo division, Qatar Airways (QR) has phased out the last Airbus A330-200F from the fleet, which now includes Boeing jetliners only.

The first Airbus freighter to join the fleet was A7-AFF (MSN 1578) delivered in November 2014. The Doha-based airline had up to eight of the type. Of these, one was sold to Wizz Air (W6), three have been sold to Sichuan Airlines (3U), and the last four have been sold to Air Belgium (KF).

When responding to a request for comment, a Qatar media spokesperson said, “The Airbus A330 freighter is a great aircraft that served Qatar Airways Cargo’s growth for years. It had always been our intention to replace our A330 freighters with B777F and the original plan was to do this in phases during 2020, however, we retained the A330 freighters to support the demand for essential aid, PPE and other cargo during the pandemic. The four A330 freighters exited our fleet on 31 January 2021.”

They continued, “Their exit has always been part of our plan for rationalization and optimization of the Qatar Airways Cargo fleet, that now consists of two Boeing 747-8 freighters and 24 Boeing 777 freighters.”

Qatar Airways Cargo now boasts 24 Boeing 777F, with three of these delivered early last month. The carrfier has other two of the type pending for delivery, expected to take place in March and April 2021. The carrier also has two Boeing 747-8Fs in service.

Photo: Daniel Gorun/Airways

Boeing 777: 30% Extra Payload, More Cargo Area

In an interview with STAT Times, Guillaume Halleux, Chief Officer Cargo, Qatar Airways confirmed the retirement. “We had five A330 freighters. We sold one of them in August last year. And the remaining were planned to exit. Therefore, as on January 31, they will be out of our fleet.” 

“We made no secret from the beginning that the order of five B777 freighters placed at the Paris Airshow in 2019 was to replace and phase out A330 freighters. This is part of streamlining our freighter fleet and going in for a homogenous fleet for very obvious reasons of optimisation and synergy,” Halleux commented.

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has exerted pressure on air cargo operators, as large passenger aircraft fleet remain grounded. The arrival of the new Boeing 777F to QR will allow the airline to add up to 30% extra payload, and additional cargo area, two features that are welcomed as operators gear up to keep delivering Personal Protective Equipment, and COVID-19 vaccines.

Photo: Miklos Budai/Airways

Featured image: Roland Rimoczi/Airways