Air Austral Begins Operating The HiFly A380

Welcome back to the HiFly A380 watch, where we are watching with great interest the movements of the world first second hand A380, which is currently being operated by ‘wet-leasing’ firm HiFly and rented to Air Austral.

Wet-leasing, in this context is a type of chartering that allows airlines the flexibility to add extra capacity to routes, or to cover technical problems. HiFly brings its own planes, crew and more and simply takes over where the airline is needed.

HiFly A380
One of Hi Fly’s A380s. Photo: HiFly

There are many wet-leasing airlines, but HiFly has made the news by being the first wet-leasing airline to own and operate a $444 million-dollar A380, an aircraft that has long be lamented as unpractical in today’s global airline industry.

According to reports from the German website Aero.de, Air Austral has hired the HiFly A380 to help service is Paris (CDG) to La Réunion route, landing at Saint-Denis (Roland Garros Airport (RUN)). La Réunion is a French territory that is located off the coast of Madagascar and is quite popular for holiday makers.

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The A380 is to operate this route 3 times a week, from 24thof August 2018 (Paris departure) to 8th of September 2018. The route is 10 hours and 55 minutes non-stop, with tickets currently being sold for 722 EUR ($834 USD) one way, or 578 EUR ($673 USD) for a four-day round trip.

Air Austral is a relatively small airline, compared to what we normally cover on this publication, that operates off the island to 14 destinations with its eight aircraft. They have in their fleet two Boeing 737-800s, three Boeing 777-300ERs, one ART 72 (A turboprop plane) and two Boeing 787-8s, whom as you will read are the main reason for this A380.

Why do they have an A380?

As we mentioned above, they have in their fleet two Boeing 787-8 Dreamliners, that have been grounded/sent for urgent maintenance in Singapore, due to problems with their Rolls Royce engines. They have already had to replace one of these planes with an HiFly A330 for their La Réunion and Bangkok route. It is no stretch that the other Dreamliner was scheduled for the popular holiday season and had to be replaced.

It is not believed that Air Austral is paying for these replacements, but that either Boeing or Rolls Royce are compensating these airlines (Which is very lucrative timing for HiFly).

Additionally, this is no last-minute decision either, Air Austral has been planning on using A380s for this route for some time, having tested the plane previously at the Roland Garros Airport in 2009, and they originally had two A380’s on order from Airbus (which was cancelled in 2016) that they had planned to operate in an 840 all-economy configuration. According to Air Austral, the holiday demand has always been there for this route, and this HiFly A380 could not have come at a better time.

Where is the HiFly A380 flying to next?

This route wraps up on the 8thof September 2018 (10 days from the publication of this article) and then the HiFly A380 will be off to a new client.

Who could that be?

  • It’s been rumoured that it may soon be flying into Israel.
  • Turkish Airways might be interested in trialling the aircraft on one of their routes to see if it could integrate into their airline, before making an order.
  • Swiss Airlines, who are currently running a twice-daily service to Miami, they could swap out one of their A330’s for one A380 and redeploy a plane elsewhere.
  • Or still on Boeing 787-8 replacement patrol, helping airlines out on their reduced capacity as the planes are repaired.

If you have enjoyed this article, then we encourage you to read up on our analysis of how much it costs to run the A380, and where their second one is!

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