Qantas stated that slot constraints at Maintenance, Repair, and Overhaul (MRO) companies are delaying the Airbus A380 aircraft from returning to service.
As of December 31, 2022, the airline, which owns a total of 10 Airbus A380 aircraft, was currently operating five of the aircraft. During its latest financial results presentation for a six-month period between June and December 2022, Qantas returned another A380 into service, with the operational Super Jumbo fleet now standing at six aircraft.
But slot constraints at MRO companies are “impacting return-to-service of remaining A380s through to early 2025”, the Australian airline said, highlighting the delays as one of the industry challenges it expected to persist in the short-term future. Furthermore, the airline has also experienced a number of other issues, including delivery delays due to supply chain production problems and challenges with obtaining spare parts, such as the Auxiliary Power Unit (APU) for an Airbus A320.
To mitigate the impact of these three factors, the company, firstly, finalized its orders for new aircraft. In doing so, it secured near-term production slots for new jets. Secondly, it began to source external second-hand Airbus A319 and A320s, to ensure it can deploy enough capacity to cover the demand. And thirdly, the airline increased the ratio of spare parts, providing a buffer in case it would need to replace a component on its current aircraft.
Finally, its scale in key aircraft fleet types limits Qantas and Jetstar Airways from being exposed to these negative factors.
The Sydney, Australia-based airline began returning its Airbus A380s back to service in January 2022, when VH-OQB began flying once again. A further five were added to the fleet throughout the year as Qantas continued to add more international capacity once borders across the globe began to reopen. By the end of FY23, which ends in June 2023, the airline had planned to reach 90% of international capacity compared to pre-pandemic levels, according to a June 2022 update.
As of its latest financial update, Qantas Group now operates 85% of the international capacity seen prior to the outbreak of the pandemic, with plans to fly 95% of international Available Seat Kilometers (ASK) compared to 2019 by the end of FY24.