Is Qantas about to return another Airbus A380 to service?

Ryan Fletcher /

Following more than two years of storage, a Qantas Airbus A380 (registered as VH-OQA), has been spotted flying once again. 

The aircraft was first stored at Sydney Kingsford Smith Airport (SYD) during the initial breakout of COVID-19 internationally in March 2020. It was then transferred to Victorville Airport (VDV) in California, the United States in July 2020. picked up activity from the double-decker’s beacons once again on September 24, 2022, when the aircraft was moved from VDV to Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) following a 40-minute flight. 

On November 17, 2022, VH-OQA was spotted once more, this time crossing the Atlantic Ocean from LAX towards London Heathrow Airport (LHR).  

At the time this article was published, the Airbus A380 was once again on its way to an unknown destination, allegedly Abu Dhabi, the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The aircraft could be flying there to complete all the required maintenance checks to return to service. Abu Dhabi hosts a maintenance facility for the A380 and was also the location where the airline’s Jumbo Jets had their cabins refurbished.

AeroTime contacted Qantas for comment. 

Capacity growth 

One of the primary reasons why the Australian airline would look to restore the Airbus A380s, despite their costly operating expenses, is that the aircraft provides a lot of additional seats to add to the airline’s available capacity to customers. 

On October 13, 2022, the airline reiterated that it would look to grow its operations, going from 61% of pre-COVID capacity by the end of H1 FY23 to 77% six months later, on June 30, 2023. In total, FY2023 capacity should reach 69% of 2019 levels. 

“This is largely determined by the ability to return additional A380s from storage and required maintenance, as well as the delivery of three new Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners for Qantas International and additional Airbus A321LRs for Jetstar,” read the carrier’s latest market update. 

The aircraft in question, VH-OQA, would be joining five other active A380s in Qantas’ fleet, namely VH-OQB, VH-OQD, VH-OQH, VH-OQJ, and VH-OQK. 

VH-OQA is the oldest Airbus A380 in Qantas’ fleet. It was also involved in the highly-covered Qantas Flight 32 incident, where an engine failure resulted in an emergency landing at Singapore Changi Airport (SIN) on November 4, 2010. Both Qantas and Singapore Airlines (SIA1) (SINGY) temporarily grounded their aircraft as a result of the incident, with the Australian airline ungrounding its A380 fleet in late-November 2010. 

READ MORE: Qantas says operations, finances getting back to normal 

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