This morning a Lufthansa Airbus A380 registered as D-AIME departed the airline’s Frankfurt home. The aircraft flew to the Tarmac Aerosave ‘aviation nursery’ in Teruel, which may well be its final destination. Lufthansa Group CEO Carsten Spohr has suggested several times that the giant may not return to the skies in the airline’s livery.
This week has been a reasonably mixed one for the Airbus A380, with some positive news for the type. The CEOs of both British Airways and Qantas revealed their continued commitment to bringing the Airbus A380 back into the skies.
On the flip side, China Southern questioned its future with the type, while Qatar’s Al Baker suggested that his remaining five jets might not return to the skies at all. It seems that we’re ending the week with some more negative news as another Lufthansa Airbus A380 has departed Frankfurt, possibly for the final time.
Farewell Mike Echo
Over the past months, the number of Airbus A380s remaining in Lufthansa’s care has slowly been dropping one by one. At the start of the year, seven Lufthansa A380s remained at Frankfurt Airport. However, following this morning’s departure, only three remain.
This morning D-AIME departed from Frankfurt Airport (FRA) at 08:56, according to data from Radarbox.com. The aircraft climbed to 41,000 feet, passing over Switzerland and France en route to the Spanish storage facility. The aircraft went on to land in a northbound direction before backtracking on the runway to Tarmac Aerosave’s facility. It arrived in Teruel (TEV) at approximately 10:50, giving a flight time of around two hours.
D-AIME, named Johannesburg, was the fifth A380 to be delivered to Lufthansa. According to data from planespotters.net, the plane is now 10.7 years old, having been delivered to the carrier in March 2011.
Why send the A380s to Spain?
So far, Lufthansa has only officially retired six of its 14 Airbus A380s, leaving eight in the fleet. However, Lufthansa is unsure if these will fly again. The airline’s CEO Carsten Spohr has repeatedly indicated that none may return to service.
That's for sure a shiny tail of our "Mike-Echo"! 🤩 Right now, this A380 is on her way to Teruel, where she will go into deep storage. Follow her @flightradar24 if you want to say hello 👋 #LH9922 or enjoy these spectacular pics of the "Johannesburg" in sparkling new livery. pic.twitter.com/yqx3cmcaVz
— Lufthansa News (@lufthansaNews) April 16, 2021
The issue with the A380 is its size. Half of the Lufthansa fleet has been sat on the apron outside the airline’s A380 hangars for most of the past year. Lufthansa has had to take care of the aircraft. However, it’s also costly to park the world’s largest passenger jet at one of Europe’s biggest airports.
The solution is the Spanish desert, where the airline can kill two birds with one stone. In Teruel, the jets are placed into a state of deep storage instead of being kept ready to fly. This includes draining systems, removing batteries, and other essential tasks. While it costs more in the short term to place a plane into this state, it is cheaper than maintaining the aircraft in the long term.
Teruel also solves the issue of parking. The facility is built in the Spanish desert. It has been designed to store unwanted aircraft and decommission retired aircraft. As a result, its prices are much more reasonable.
One more departure?
So far, nine of the airline’s A380s have been flown to Teruel, with a further two being flown to Tarbes, another Tarmac Aerosave site in France. This leaves three Airbus A380s in Frankfurt. Next month, one additional A380 is set to head to Spain, leaving two A380s in Frankfurt. These will be kept by the airline, for the time being, just in case there is a sudden demand for them.
Do you think we’ll ever see Lufthansa’ Airbus A380s returning to the skies? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!