AviationOnce spurned, the Airbus A380 is fast returning to the skies as travel roars back.

Back to the future: The A380 is cool again

Airlines are re-evaluating the value of superjumbo in their fleets.
Airlines are re-evaluating the value of superjumbo in their fleets. Photo Credit: GettyImages/iwikoz6

Condemned to a lingering demise not too long ago, the Airbus A380 is bouncing back from those desert graveyards and is being spruced up to resume its reputation as the passenger-friendly giant of the skies.

British Airways is revamping its entire fleet of A380s, Qantas is returning the superjumbo on routes to Los Angeles and London, via Singapore; Lufthansa has plans to restart A380 operations next year and Singapore Airlines has increased A380 scheduled services by almost 200% in the first nine months of 2022.

Qatar Airways, China Southern and Korean Air have also put A380s back to work.

Emirates, which has the biggest A380 fleet by far, is even calling on Airbus to consider building a replacement for the A380, which the aircraft manufacturer says won’t happen now that it has closed down the A380 production line with the recent completion of its last A380 for Emirates.

Only Air France, Thai Airways and Malaysia Airlines are unlikely to bring the aircraft back into service, and while Etihad has been reluctant to nominate a date for the A380s return, it is tipped to do so next year.

As air travel data specialist OAG asks: “So what happened?”

In a word, pandemic.

According to OAG, the strength of the recovery post pandemic caught everyone by surprise. “That demand has seen some airlines re-evaluate the value of a large aircraft in their fleets, especially when operating to slot constrained airports where additional frequencies, and indeed resources, would be hard to secure.

“The A380 fills that demand gap in many cases and airlines are clearly being very selective about where they operate the aircraft.”

OAG says other factors are in play that make the A380 more desirable in the post-pandemic recovery.

Delays in deliveries of the B777X, seen by airlines as a replacement for the A380, and a dispute between Qatar Airways and Airbus over paintwork on the A350, which has left the Middle East airline short of planes, has forced airlines looking for other options.

“So, a series of unrelated incidents have all made what was the ugly duckling for most airlines in the pandemic a possible beautiful swan,” OAG says.

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