The famous Hi Fly A380 has been spotted in Gran Canaria, the first time such a large plane has been flown to the small island. Whilst not confirmed at this time, it is likely that the aircraft is being deployed as part of Operation Matterhorn, to return British nationals stranded after Thomas Cook collapsed.
What are the details?
Confirmed by Hi Fly themselves on their LinkedIn, the famous Hi Fly A380 has been flown to Grand Canaria from Gatwick.
Hi Fly, being a wet-lease airline, is essentially an airline-gun for hire. Unlike normal charters, other airlines can actually hire the A380 to replace their own services. Hi Fly provides pilots, cabin crew, meals, fuel, and even the Airline Operators Certificate, so their clients don’t have to worry about any of the regulations of international travel.
They fill an important gap in the market catering to other airlines. If an airline is out of luck with one of their aircraft, they can hardly call up one of their rivals to hire a spare. Hence, the wet-lease industry has proven to be very lucrative for the Portuguese carrier.
Hi Fly and it’s subsidiary airline Hi Fly Malta, currently operates a mixed fleet of 17 aircraft, which ranges from smaller A319 aircraft right up to an Airbus A380.
Why is the Hi Fly A380 so good?
The A380, tail number 9H-MIP is special for a particular reason – it’s the only second hand Airbus A380 in use by a wet-lease company. It’s even still fitted with Singapore Airlines’ suites, which can prove to be a delightful upgrade for a lucky few travelers.
With big capacity and a bigger range, the A380 is perfectly suited for trans and inter-continental journeys.
Gran Canaria is a relatively small airport and it would have been quite a sight to see the A380 landing there. With twin runways of only 3,100 meters long, and the A380 requiring just shy of 3,000 meters to land and take off correctly, this mission left no margin for error.
Is this journey part of Operation Matterhorn?
When Thomas Cook collapsed earlier this month, thousands of holidaymakers were stranded across the European continent. Without an airline to ferry them back home, it was up to the British government to organize a relief effort, in an effort dubbed ‘Operation Matterhorn’.
As listed on GC Maps, the British government hired the following airlines to help out:
Air Europa, Atlas Air, Eastern Airlines, EasyJet, EuroAtlantic Airways, Evelop Airlines, Freebird Airlines, Hi Fly and Hi Fly Malta, Malaysia Airlines, Miami Air International, Nile Air, Titan Airways, Virgin Atlantic, Wamos Air, and others that were sub-contracted to the above.
Hi Fly has been confirmed to be involved, operating two flights across to the Dalaman, Turkey and Kos, Greece. Simple Flying reached out to ask if this flight to Gran Canaria was part of the operation, but at the time of publishing Hi Fly has yet to reply.
In this humble authors opinion, it fits the mission profile perfectly for the rescue effort and believes that Hi Fly was further tasked to bring their massive capacity A380 to bare to help save these stranded British expats.
What do you think? Let us know in the comments.