While the COVID-19 keeps taking its toll on international air travel, airlines are reviewing the future of their widebody aircraft. On August 19, 2021, Korean Air chief executive Cho Won-tae reportedly confirmed that the airline would retire all of its Airbus A380 aircraft by 2026.
“The A380s will be leaving Korean Air’s fleet within five years, and the Boeing 747-8I fleet will also follow suit within ten years,” Cho confirmed in an interview with FlightGlobal.
South Korea’s flag-carrier Korean Air currently has a fleet of 10 Airbus A380s, an average of 9.2 years, as per Planespotter.net data. At the moment, only one out of the 10 Super Jumbos is in service.
After a planned merger with Asiana Airlines, which is set to officially begin in 2022, Korean Air would be the world’s second biggest Airbus A380 operator, inheriting six Asiana’s Airbus A380 aircraft.
AeroTime News reached out to Korean Air for a comment but did not receive an answer at the time of publication.
Korean Air to be the eight operator to drop the Airbus A380?
In total, only 15 airlines in the world operated Airbus A380 aircraft. Korean Air happened to become the sixth airline to operate the Super Jumbo and might become the eighth to oust it.
Korean Air took its first delivery of its widebody aircraft on May 24, 2011. Powered by Engine Alliance GP7200 engines, the A380 featured a three class layout, with capabilities to seat up to 407 passengers. Features included a duty free showcase area, bar, and lounge on the upper deck for premium class.
“Korean Air was the first airline to purchase an Airbus aircraft outside Europe and they have now become an essential part of our fleet,” former CEO of Korean Air Yang Ho Cho was quoted in a statement written in 2011. “The exceptional, fuel efficient and environmentally friendly A380 that is being delivered today is perfect to assist Korean Air in advancing our goal of becoming a respected leading global carrier.”
The international air travel demand collapse brought by the COVID-19 pandemic has been cruel for the quadjet Airbus A380. Lufthansa (LHAB) (LHA), Thai Airways, Air France, Hi Fly, Etihad Airways, Qatar Airways, and Malaysia Airlines have already discontinued flying Super Jumbos largely due to operational inefficiency and costly maintenance.