Reports of the death of the A380 have been greatly exaggerated. As travel demand picks up and borders reopen following the COVID-19 pandemic, several airlines have announced plans to bring their superjumbos out of storage. So which routes will they be operating? AeroTime takes a look at which airlines are bringing the A380 back into service in 2021 and early 2022.
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Singapore Airlines (SIA1) (SINGY), the world’s first airline to operate the Airbus A380 in 2007, announced on October 14, 2021, that it would be bringing back the A380 to its network from November 18, 2021.
The A380 will make its return for SIA on the service to London. The decision means the A380 will also operate as SQ317, the vaccinated travel lane flight between Heathrow (LHR) and Changi (SIN).
Before that, the airline will train crew on short familiarization flights between SIN and Kuala Lumpur (KUL) from November 4 to December 3, 2021.
In more good news for A380 fans, SIA announced on October 22 that it would operate the A380 on routes to Sydney from December 1, 2021, providing additional capacity for Christmas traffic.
The British flag carrier announced on October 6, 2021, that it would bring its A380s back in November, sooner than it had originally planned. It has a fleet of 12 A380s but plans to bring back five of the aircraft to start with.
The airline is intending to use the A380 on regular services to Miami (MIA), Los Angeles (LAX), and Dubai (DXB) in December 2021.
A380 flights to DXB start on December 3, 2021. Flights on BA’s A380 to MIA begin on December 5, while LAX A380 flights commence on December 9.
However, before then it will fly short-haul routes with the A380 for crew training purposes. The short-haul routes to Frankfurt and Madrid from London Heathrow will run between November 8 and December 2, 2021.
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Qatar Airways is bringing its A380s back, but not out of any great love for the aircraft. CEO Akbar Al-Baker once said the decision to buy the superjumbo was the airline’s “biggest mistake”.
Rather, the Doha-based carrier needs the A380s to make up for capacity lost by its A350s, which are currently grounded due to an issue with the surface of the fuselage.
Al-Baker told Executive Traveller on September 29, 2021, that Qatar would start to fly the A380s by early November 2021, with plans to bring back five out of its 10 A380s. The chief executive did not rule out bringing back all 10 A380s, however.
Qatar Airways currently plans to start regular flights with the A380 to LHR and Paris Charles de Gaulle (CDG) from December 15, 2021.
Qantas has been very busy announcing route plans in October 2021, thanks to the borders finally opening up in Australia.
The Australian flag carrier said on October 22, 2021, that it was bringing forward the return of its A380 fleet. It had planned to start flights to LAX and LHR from July 2022 with five A380s.
Now, two A380s will start flights to LAX from April 2022. One of the aircraft could be back in the Qantas fleet by the end of 2021 for crew training purposes.
A380 flights to Los Angeles can be booked online starting from April 1, 2022.
Another three of the Qantas A380s will now return to service from mid-November 2022, with the remaining five due to be brought back by early 2024.
Qantas currently has 12 A380s in storage. The October 22 announcement covers plans for 10 aircraft, which suggests two A380s are likely to still be retired.
And what of Emirates, the world’s largest operator of the Airbus A380? It has continued to fly the jet during the pandemic, although well over half of its fleet has been parked.
The airline announced on September 27, 2021, that it would be flying more of the superjumbos in 2021, with plans to bring back more than 50 of its A380s by the end of the year.
Currently, it has 43 A380s in service, while 77 are in storage, according to Planespotters.net.
One of those flying is in special “nose-to-tail” livery marking the Dubai Expo 2020 which is currently taking place.