Airbus: Passenger To Freighter A380 Conversions Technically Feasible

Converting the Airbus A380 to a freighter would be technically possible, according to the publication FreightWaves. The publication reveals that Airbus is reportedly shopping around A380 to operators to gauge interest in such a conversion.

Airbus, Combi A380, Freighter
According to reports, a combi Airbus A380 conversion would be technically feasible. Photo: Vincenzo Pace – Simple Flying

The Airbus A380 never quite took off the ground in how Airbus had hoped when launching the program. Only 251 orders made it through to the manufacturing line, with the final Airbus A380 recently taking its first flight. Some A380s have already been sent to retirement at the age of just ten years. However, could there be new hope for the giant of the skies.

Could we see a combi A380?

It seems as though Airbus has at least entertained the possibility of a combi Airbus A380. According to industry publication Freight Waves, the manufacturer has approached airlines to gauge interest in such a modification. The publication exclusively cited one of the manufacturer’s spokespersons stating that such a conversion would be technically feasible.

“If we see sufficient customer interest in an A380 converted freighter, we would investigate this possibility further” – Airbus Spokesperson to Freight Waves

Meanwhile, unnamed sources close to the matter are said to have confirmed such talks have taken place with at least two of the giant’s customers. Who these customers are remains unclear.

Airbus, Combi A380, Freighter
Airbus had planned to launch an all freight version of the A380, but customers canceled all orders. Photo: Airbus

However, FreightWaves did contact airlines to ask for comments on such a conversion. It seems that none would be prepared to comment on a potential conversion, except for a Lufthansa spokesperson who told the publication that the German flag carrier sees no feasibility for such a conversion. Lufthansa’s CEO Carsten Spohr previously said it was unlikely the A380 would return to service for the carrier.

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Will a conversion happen?

If such a conversion were to happen, it would likely be a long way off. FreightWaves states that a significant modification would need to be made to safely divide the upper deck, which would continue to be used for passengers, and the lower deck.

Airbus would likely need a significant interest to proceed with such a program, with the publication putting this at 50-60 aircraft. Given how many airlines are already seemingly retiring their fleets, such an effort would almost certainly rely on Emirates’ interest. Perhaps Emirates would be willing to convert some aircraft down the line.

Airbus, Combi A380, Freighter
If Airbus pursued a conversion, it wouldn’t be the first time it tried to alter the A380. Photo: Airbus

However, It would take some time before such a modification could be drawn up, tested, and certified.

Previous freighter attempts

Airbus initially marketed an all freighter version of the Airbus A380. However, all orders were canceled, with the manufacturer failing to make a prototype of the plane. More recently, Hi Fly converted its sole Airbus A380 into a makeshift freighter, carrying light cargo in the cabin. However, the aircraft didn’t find any real demand, with Hi Fly ending its lease of the jet after just three years.

Airbus, Combi A380, Freighter
HiFly’s attempt to offer the world’s largest preighter was unsuccessful. Photo: HiFly

If Airbus were to push ahead with such a plan, it wouldn’t be the first time the European manufacturing giant has attempted to reignite the A380 program, so be it with existing airframes. The Airbus A380plus was previously launched to reignite sales. However, no airframes were sold.

Do you think we’ll ever see a combi Airbus A380? Let us know what you think and why in the comments below!