Bits and BobsCapacity of the Airbus double decker is down 97%.

Why the A380 is the pandemic's biggest victim

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Singapore Airlines, Qatar Airways, Etihad, Qantas, British Airways, Lufthansa, Air France, Thai Airways and All Nippon have currently grounded their A380 fleet. Photo Credit: Getty Images/iwikoz6

Some interesting figures from OAG which show that as aircraft adapt to the challenges of Covid-19, average aircraft size at a global level is down from 146 seats a year ago to 141 now.

The aircraft which have fallen out of favour most are the larger, older aircraft such as the B777 and A330. They’ve seen capacity fall by 66% and 71%, respectively, between February last year and February this year, while the A340 has seen capacity fall by 78% and the A380 by 97%.

Unfortunately for the A380 operators, OAG notes, the types of routes they were purchased to fly are those most adversely affected by the changes in air travel brought about by the virus: long-haul, international and connecting journeys.

As of this month, only four of the 14 A380 operators from a year ago were actually flying any of these aircraft and these are Emirates, Asiana, Korean Air and China Southern Airlines.

More than half of all A380 flights were being flown by Emirates prior to the pandemic and A380s made up 41% of their capacity, with all the remaining seats flown on B777 aircraft.

The list of airlines which are keeping their A380s on the ground include Singapore Airlines, Qatar Airways, Etihad, Qantas, British Airways, Lufthansa, Air France, Thai Airways and All Nippon.

However, Singapore Airlines has announced that it is refreshing its A380 cabin product ahead of resuming flights at some stage in the future.

Qantas plots October comeback

Qantas is remaining upbeat about its Covid-19 recovery despite recording A$6.9 billion (US$5.4 billion) revenue impact from the pandemic crisis in half-year 2021, down 75%.

The airline’s underlying loss before tax was A$1.03 billion for the half year.

“The fact that we were able to limit a A$7 billion drop in revenue to a bottom-line loss of circa A$1 billion says a lot about how the Qantas Group is managing this crisis,” said Qantas CEO Alan Joyce.

The good news is that Qantas is planning to resume flights to 22 of its 25 pre-Covid international destinations including Los Angeles, London, Singapore and Johannesburg from 31 October 2021.

AirAsia eyes full recovery

The rollout of Covid-19 vaccines across Malaysia is cause for optimism, said Tony Fernandes, CEO, AirAsia Group.

“We can look forward to a gradual recovery in 2021 in all of our key markets and potentially a full recovery within the next two years,” he said.

“AirAsia’s key international markets including Indonesia, Singapore, China and Australia are progressing well with the vaccination programme, while other regional countries such as Thailand and the Philippines are scheduled to begin their programme by the first quarter of this year.

“After a year of uncertainty, it’s great to see that this extremely challenging chapter is finally coming to a close,” Fernandes added.

Bali to prioritise tourism workers for vaccine

Bali’s Tourism Office has been told by the federal government in Jakarta that local tourism workers on the island must be among the first to be registered for Covid-19 vaccinations.

Head of the Bali Tourism Office, I Putu Astawa, said meetings had been held with 48 tourism stakeholders in Bali to explain that the government wanted to see tourism workers at the front of the vaccination queue “to maintain world confidence, so people come to Bali”.

Flight Centre hopeful of silver bullet

Flight Centre hopes to break even this year — if domestic borders open permanently and some low-risk international corridors are unlocked.

“Assuming the vaccinations work, it should be a silver bullet,” Flight Centre CEO Graham Turner told the Australian Financial Review.

Flight Centre Travel reported a A$233 million loss for the six months ending 31 December from a A$22 million profit a year earlier, shortly before Covid-19 began its deadly spread.

“If vaccines work, we expect travel restrictions will ease over the next few months given that high-risk and vulnerable people, who are being prioritised in most programmes, will be protected,” Turner added.

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