China Southern Airlines (ZNH) becomes the only operator in the world, whose Airbus A380 can be spotted soaring the skies, as the global demand for passenger aircraft ‒ even more so for wide-body ‒ crumbles amid COVID-19 crisis.
By the end of March 2020, the global fleet of Airbus A380 stood at 240 aircraft, according to the manufacturer’s data. But only three of these aircraft can currently be seen put to work by a single (out of a total 15) operator.
Within the last seven days, it was only China Southern Airlines’ (ZNH) superjumbos rushing between the airline’s hub in Guangzhou and Europe or North America.
The carrier has a total of five double-deckers in its fleet. Three of them, (registrations numbers B-6140, B-6137, B-6136) ran errands to London, Amsterdam, Vancouver, and Los Angeles within the last seven days, flgihtradar24.co data indicated.
As the global COVID-19 has sent commercial passenger aviation into a halt, the A380 has fallen out of grace even with its most loyal customer ‒ Emirates. The airline, whose fleet consists of almost half of the world’s A380s, has parked all 115 of its superjumbos, while the carrier’s president has declared that “A380 is over”.
“We know the A380 is over, the 747 is over but the A350 and the 787 will always have a place. They may not be ordered soon, they may have orders deferred and pushed back, but eventually they will come back, and they will be a better fit probably for global demand in the years post the pandemic,” Emirates president Tim Clark said in an interview with the National on May 5, 2020.
Despite the seemingly imminent doom of the airliner’s brief era, Lufthansa Technik is giving the A380 a shot for what appears to be the last hurrah.
On May 6, 2020, the MRO provider revealed that it was contracted by an undisclosed customer to convert the cabin of the A380 for cargo transportation. The conversion of the superjumbo into a freighter would be a world’s first.