18 Giants Parked: Aerial View Shows A380s In Desert Storage

The number of Airbus A380s at Teruel has been climbing slowly over the past year. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, mentions of the Spanish storage facility were few and far between. Now, Teruel is a name that most with interest in aviation instantly recognize.

Teruel, Spain, Aircraft Graveyard
Four airlines now have Airbus A380s parked in Teruel. Photo: Getty Images

18 Airbus A380 in “nursery”

Teruel has become a central destination for the storage of the giant of the skies. Initially, airlines sent only a handful of giants to Spain. This included two examples from Air France, alongside another seven from German flag carrier Lufthansa.

At the time, it had hoped that these giant aircraft would just be resting their wings. Hence, the site’s operator Tarmac Aerosave was keen to position itself as an “aircraft nursery”, looking after the jets until their owners recall them.

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Departures looking more and more unlikely

Sadly, with each day, week, and month that passes, it looks increasingly unlikely that the planes will return to the skies. These days 18 A380s are resident at Teruel. They can be spotted dotted around the site in an aerial image recently shared by the airport.

The majority of giants at the site are from Lufthansa, with the most recent jet flying out earlier this month. Ten belong to the German flag carrier. Three A380s are from Etihad and British Airways, respectively. The last two aircraft come from Air France, the only airline to firmly rule out the type’s return.

Lufthansa, Airbus A380, Long Term Storage
Lufthansa has more A380s in Teruel than any other airline. Photo: Tom Boon – Simple Flying

What will happen to the jets?

Earlier this year, Simple Flying reported that Tarmac Aerosave hadn’t received orders to deconstruct any of the A380s in its care in Teruel. Of the 18, only two have been firmly retired from service. The Air France aircraft will almost certainly be scrapped.

According to its latest earnings guidance, Lufthansa has only officially retired six of its 14 jets. Despite this, the airline’s CEO, Carsten Spohr, has repeatedly commented that the type is unlikely to return to service at all.

The most recent of the giant Teruel residents to face the chop from service are the three aircraft from Etihad Airways. While the airline’s CEO is fond of the jet, he has revealed that the aircraft has no place in the airline’s post-COVID-19 network.

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A glimmer of hope for BA’s planes

While the above makes for pretty sad reading for fans of the A380, all hope is not lost. If any of the A380s in storage in Teruel return to the skies, it is most likely to be those of British Airways. The British flag carrier’s CEO, Sean Doyle, has said that the Airbus A380 will return several times.

British Airways, Airbus A380, Future
British Airways CEO has given hope to the Airbus A380’s future. Photo: Tom Boon – Simple Flying

While the A380 doesn’t make sense for many carriers in a post COVID world, it remains useful to British Airways, given the slot restrictions at London Heathrow Airport. The only negative point is that Doyle hasn’t laid out how many giants will return to the skies.

If the airline were to retire any aircraft, these would likely be the obvious choice. Firstly, Teruel already has aircraft recycling capabilities, meaning that they could remain in situ. They are also the three oldest A380s in the airline’s fleet.

What do you think will happen to Teruel’s giants? Let us know what you think and why in the comments below!