Australia used to be a bit of an A380 hub, with many airlines sending their mega jumbos into the country’s larger airports. But the travel downturn saw most of those flights dry up, with many airlines putting their A380 fleets into hibernation. But if you look hard enough, you can still see an A380 in Australia now and then.
China Southern Airlines still sends an A380 to Australia
Often overlooked, Guangzhou-based China Southern Airlines continues to operate an A380 on its weekly passenger service to Melbourne. Every Tuesday evening, CZ343 departs Guangzhou for the eight-and-a-half-hour run down to Melbourne. That A380 flight turns around in Melbourne on Wednesday mornings and becomes CZ344 back to Guangzhou.
Passengers on the flight get lots of personal space. Australian Government regulations constrain the number of passengers allowed to arrive into the country. In June, Simple Flying reported one China Southern A380 into Melbourne only carried 14 passengers. Twenty-three thousand kilograms of freight in the belly partially offset the operating costs of that flight.
Over July and August, China Southern also sent a weekly A380 passenger service to Sydney. An A380 operated CX325/326 between July 10 and August 21. Since late August, a China Southern A350-900 has operated the flight. Given that China Southern Airlines once sent multiple daily A380 flights into Sydney and Melbourne, this is a threadbare schedule.
Emirates eyes Australia A380 flights in 2022
But China Southern is the only airline regularly still scheduling A380s in Australia. Airlines like Emirates periodically send a jumbo down to Sydney, but the flights are rarities. However, as Executive Traveller first flagged this week, Emirates has put the A380 back into its Australia timetables next year.
Over the 2022 northern summer flying season, Emirates is sending its A380s back to Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane. They are also restoring the fifth freedom A380 flight between Sydney and Christchurch. Along with Singapore Airlines’ now-defunct flights between Melbourne and Wellington, that Emirates flight was always the cruisiest way to cross the Tasman.
“As borders reopen, we look forward to restoring our Australian flight schedules, including our popular A380 services, and to welcoming customers to experience our best-in-class partnership for many more years to come,” said Emirates President Tim Clark from Boston this week.
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Qantas A380’s LA bound next July
Homegrown airline Qantas is eyeing resuming A380 flights in July. From July 1, Qantas has an A380 slated to operate QF11 between and Sydney and Los Angeles and QF12 on the return leg. The next city on the radar for Qantas for A380 flights is London, although the airline is yet to slot the aircraft into its published schedules.
That still leaves a raft of carriers who formerly sent A380s to Australia – Singapore Airlines, Malaysia Airlines, Korean Air, Asiana, Etihad, and Qatar A380s were regular sights at Australian airports.
One of the former biggest A380 operators in Australia, Singapore Airlines, remains cautious with its forward schedules into Australia. The airline was burnt by changing goalposts in Australia and forced to cancel many flights. Singapore Airlines wants the Australian Government to put its money where its mouth is when it comes to border reopens before significantly upgrading capacity into Australia.
The future of multiple former A380 services remains uncertain
Etihad and Malaysia Airlines have retired their A380 fleets, knocking two airlines out of the game. Asiana and Korean Air are merging, and Korean A380s will likely return to Australia once free-flowing travel resumes between the two countries – although putting a date on this is tricky.
Qatar was to retire its A380s. However, the mercurial CEO Akbar Al Baker recently reversed that decision, deciding to keep five A380s. Qatar’s fabulous A380s were also a regular sight at Australia’s airports. So far, there’s no word on their return to the Southern Hemisphere. Initially, Qatar will send the A380s to London and Paris, but it would be a huge win to see Qatar’s A380s regularly back in Australia sometime next year.
Do you think Australia will ever see the number of A380s it once did? What airlines won’t return with their big jumbos? Post a comment and let us know.