It’s now been a year since airlines worldwide grounded the majority of the Airbus A380 fleet. The last 12 months haven’t been great for the type, with some giants facing a rather grim future. However, several key operators of the kind have shown their continuing commitment to the giant of the skies.
The Airbus A380 has arguably been the worst hit of all aircraft types when it comes to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. While China Southern maintained Airbus A380 operations at the height of the crisis, all other airlines grounded their fleets at one point. To this day, most remain grounded.
The fall of the A380
The fall of the Airbus A380 primarily took place in the second half of March 2020. On the 8th of March, 206 Airbus A380 aircraft were still operational. However, fast forward three weeks, and this had dropped to just 26.
As Emirates accounts for around half of the global A380 fleet, the aircraft’s drop in use was most notable when the airline was forced to ground its entire fleet almost overnight when the UAE government banned it from flying passengers. This took place between March 21st and March 23rd, as shown on the graph below.
Most A380s still grounded
Unfortunately, the past year has seen many Airbus A380s left gathering dust at airports worldwide, with over half the global fleet currently being stored in the Middle East from Abu Dhabi to Doha and Dubai. While there has been some recovery in the number of daily Airbus A380 flights, it is still barely noticeable.
Today, three airlines are actively operating the giant of the skies. The most prominent is Emirates, which is operating to multiple destinations a day with an active fleet in the double digits. China Southern’s fleet of A380s is also active most days. Meanwhile, Korean Air is operating a handful of A380 flights. The below comparison of RadarBox.com data shows the difference a year has made in A380 operations,
Some hope remains for the giant
Overall, the future looks reasonably grim for the Airbus A380. While not officially retiring their fleets at this stage, both Etihad and Lufthansa look unlikely to resume A380 services. Emirates is taking a more bullish approach, hoping to reactivate its entire fleet (both A380s and 777s) by the start of next year.
Meanwhile, while not saying when the type will return, both British Airways and Qantas are expected to resume A380 flights in the future. Additionally, Singapore Airlines has committed to returning 12 of its fleet to the world’s skies.
What do you make of the Airbus A380s continued grounding? Let us know what you think and why in the comments!