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.
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
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
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.
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,”