The Month Of The A380: Inside The Giant’s December Comeback

While the COVID-19 pandemic had a vast impact on Airbus A380 flights worldwide, it seems as though airlines are falling back in love with the aircraft. December will be the first month since the height of the crisis, with more than 3,000 A380 flights scheduled. While Emirates is behind the bulk of flights, other carriers will also resume long-haul A380 flights in December.

London Heathrow, Airbus A380, Perfect Aircrfat
December will be the start of the A380’s comeback. Photo: Getty Images

Last week was a great week for fans of the Airbus A380. Not only did British Airways reveal that the giant of the skies was making a comeback, but Qatar Airways also added the giant back to its flight schedule, despite previously telling Simple Flying that buying the aircraft was the airline’s biggest mistake.

3,096 flights planned in December

According to schedule information from aviation data experts Cirium, over 3,000 Airbus A380 flights are scheduled during December, making the first time that this milestone has been reached since the height of the pandemic. Last December, Emirates alone operated just 565 flights with the giant of the skies.

Airbus A380, December 2021, Comeback
The A380 will exceed 3,000 flights for the first time since the pandemic in December. Data: Cirium

While Emirates will still account for most Airbus A380 flights this December, it will be the first time that the airline hasn’t accounted for basically all flights since the type returned to the skies in July 2020. With 2,693 flights planned, Emirates should operate 87% of December’s A380 flights.

Airbus A380, December 2021, Comeback
Emirates still accounts for the majority of flights. Data: Cirium

British Airways

British Airways is bringing the Airbus A380 back to the skies in November, with flights expected to Frankfurt and Madrid for crew training. Currently, the schedules for these short-haul flights aren’t known and thus aren’t reflected in the data. However, in December, the airline is bringing the giant of the skies back to long-haul flights, something it is keen to make a big song and dance about.

British Airways, Airbus A380, Return To Service
British Airways is making a big song and dance about the A380’s return. Photo: British Airways

During 2021’s last month, British Airways has 157 A380 flights scheduled, accounting for 5% of the total A380 schedule. BA will initially fly the A380 to three destinations daily. Flights to Dubai (DXB) are due to start on December 3rd, followed by Miami (MIA) on December 5th. Finally, Los Angeles is set to join the mix on December 9th. The airline is initially bringing back four A380s to operate the three routes.

Qatar Airways

December will also mark the return of the Airbus A380 for Qatar Airways. This is the most surprising of all the A380 activations, as the airline’s CEO, Akbar Al Baker, had been particularly critical of the giant during its grounding, suggesting many times that it would never return to service.

Qatar Airways, Airbus A380, Fleet Impairment
The Qatar Airways Airbus A380 return was unexpected. Photo: Airbus

The airline has 102 A380 flights planned for December, accounting for around 3% of the month’s flights. Rather than a staggered approach like British Airways, Qatar Airways will bring its three daily flights back all at once on December 15th. According to schedule data, the airline will operate a daily service to Paris’ Charles De Gaulle Airport, with a twice-daily service to British Airways’ home, London Heathrow.

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Korean Airlines

Korean Airlines isn’t strictly bringing the A380 back in December, although it may as well be. The highest number of flights that the airline has operated with the giant in a single month since the start of the pandemic was 10. As the December schedule stands, this should shoot up to 108 for 2021’s last month, accounting for 3%.

Korean Air A380
Korean Air will retire the A380 within five years. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

Like British Airways, Korean Airlines has three A380 routes on the cards for December. Though, unlike British Airways, they aren’t all daily. Per Cirium’s data, a daily flight to Bangkok will be in operation from December 1st. Also starting on December 1st are flights to Paris Charles De Gaulle. With 18 rotations planned for the month, the service will operate four times a week. Finally, the airline is scheduled to continue its weekly flight to Guangzhou, China, running for over a year. Earlier this year, Korean Air revealed that it would retire the Airbus A380 within five years.

China Southern Airlines

China Southern was the only airline not to ground the Airbus A380 at the height of the pandemic, keeping its fleet of five aircraft in operation throughout. The airline operated 52 A380 flights during May 2020. This reached a high of 110 in September 2020. Despite this, the airline has dialed it back a bit in the past year, and only 36 flights with the A380 are planned for December 2021.

Airbus A380, Emirates, Deliveries
China Southern was the only airline not to ground the A380 at all. Photo: Vincenzo Pace – Simple Flying

Accounting for just 1% of total A380 flights in December, the airline will fly to three destinations during the month as things currently stand. Nine rotations are planned to Los Angeles International (LAX). Five are scheduled to Amsterdam, along with another four to Melbourne, Australia.


At the tail end of 2021, Emirates has been seriously cranking up its Airbus A380 schedule. When the UK placed the airline on its red-list, flights dropped from 603 in January to 284 in February. Since then, things have increased each month, with 2,693 flights planned for December. According to the airline’s chairman, Tim Clark, Emirates hopes to have 50 A380s back in service to meet this schedule by the end of the year.

Airbus A380, December 2021, Comeback
Emirates has 28 A380 destinations planned from Dubai in December. Photo: Cirium

But where will Emirates’ 1,321 rotations fly? The airline will fly the giant of the skies to 29 destinations, ranging from Amman to Zurich. As the airline’s flagship route, London Heathrow will see the most flights with 186 rotations during the month, equating to over 90,000 seats. Meanwhile, nine destinations will accept direct double daily flights from Dubai. These are,

  • CAI – Cairo, Egypt
  • CDG – Paris Charles De Gaulle, France
  • DUS – Dusseldorf, Germany
  • FRA – Frankfurt, Germany
  • JED – Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
  • JFK – New York, United States
  • MAN – Manchester, United Kingdom
  • MRU – Mauritius, Mauritius
  • MUC – Munich, Germany

Only four destinations will have a fewer than daily frequency. The destinations with the most occasional rotations are both in China. Shanghai has five cycles planned, while Guanzhou has four. The furthest A380 destination is Los Angeles. At 8,334 miles, the route will have a daily A380 service.

Do you have any Airbus A380 flights planned for the remainder of 2021? Let us know where you’re flying and when in the comments!