While some airlines had already planned the exit of the Airbus A380 from their fleets, COVID has caused a max exodus of the double-decker quadjet. One by one, the superjumbo has flown the coupe from Frankfurt, Bangkok, Abu Dhabi, and Malaysia. However, the first three A380s to be officially scrapped left their respective fleets before the crisis hit.
No second-hand hope
Despite the best efforts of airlines such as THAI Airways to sell them onwards, the second-hand market for the A380s looks incredibly grim. Even the only specimen to successfully transition operators has also been retired by its adopter, Portuguese wet lease specialist Hi Fly.
So it comes as no surprise that A380s are now being disassembled at the airplane boneyards they have flown to end their days. According to data from ch-aviation, thus far, three Airbus A380s have been scrapped.
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First to go was also the first delivered
The first to meet its fate was the very first Airbus A380 to be delivered a little over 13 years ago. Originally flying for Singapore Airlines, 9V-SKA arrived with the city-state flag carrier in October 2007. However, the airline withdrew it from use as early as 2017, when the airline flew it to Lourdes in France. It transitioned ownership to the German Dr Peters Group and was subsequently broken up for parts.
The aircraft, which had taken its first flight in May 2006, was acquired along with four others through a ten-year lease deal. Rather than fall victim to COVID and the crisis, the airline retired all five as a result of the decision not to extend the lease. Instead, Singapore took five new A380s delivered between October 2017 and July 2018 in an effort to keep its fleet as young as possible.
One of the planes went to the aforementioned Hi Fly. Another of Singapore’s less than decade-old retirees has already been scrapped. First delivered in June 2008, just as its iconic first-delivery colleague, it was sold to the Dr Peters Group in 2017. It was also taken apart at Tarbes–Lourdes–Pyrénées.
F-HPJ met its fate in West Ireland
The third A380 (but by no means the last) to be taken apart belonged to Air France. Rather than remain in France, the aircraft made its way to Ireland West Knock Airport in February 2020 after being withdrawn from use two months prior.
The aircraft, registered as F-HPBJ, was first delivered to Air France in February 2010 and thus flew to its final resting place precisely one decade after it entered service. Photos surfaced of the sad fate of the aircraft in December of the same year.
The list of Giants of the Skies taken apart for parts is set to grow substantially over the coming years unless some entirely unforeseeable miracle occurs. With airlines such as Qatar Airways, Etihad, and Lufthansa all giving up on their A380s, many more of the superjumbos have now ended their passenger-carrying days much too soon.