Etihad Airways is seemingly set to permanently retire its first Airbus A380 aircraft, as A6-APA was spotted flying from Abu Dhabi International Airport (AUH) to Tarbes Airport (LDE) in France, where an aircraft recycling facility is located.
Etihad Airways Airbus A380 (registered A6-APA) was delivered to the airline in December 2014 and was the first-ever A380 delivered to the Abu Dhabi-based airline. While at 6.4-years-old the aircraft is at the halfway point of its estimated useful life, it is definitely not close to its retirement age at 12 years.
The double-decker departed Abu Dhabi International Airport (AUH) at 10:46 AM local time (UTC +4) and is scheduled to arrive at Tarbes Airport (LDE) in France at 2:18 PM local time (UTC +1). The six-year-old A380 will join several other Super Jumbos located at the airport, including ex-Air France airframes and one now-retired Emirates A380.
Future of Etihad’s A380s was already in doubt in early-October 2020, when Etihad confirmed that they would be grounded until at least the Winter 2021 season, which starts on the last Sunday of October, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA).
The already-fragile finances of the Abu Dhabi flag carrier and very steep operating costs of the A380, not to mention the lackluster demand for air travel could very well spell the end for the aircraft in the airline’s fleet.
If A6-APA is on its way out, Etihad Airways would have nine remaining A380s left. Other aircraft in the airline’s fleet are 20 Airbus A320, 10 Airbus A321, 25 Boeing 777, including six 777F, and 39 Boeing 787 aircraft. In addition, Airbus has delivered five A350s to the airline. However, upon delivery, they went straight to storage at Bordeaux Merignac Airport (BOD) in France.
AeroTime News approached Etihad Airways for comment.